UPDATE 26. October 2020: Ogiek protest against plan to settle Mau land dispute

UPDATE 21. October 2020: "Ogieks (sic!) open up to the world" - do they or are they forced?

UPDATE 18. October 2020: SHAME ON THE KENYAN GOVERNANCE: 4,500 Sleep in Caves Following Night Evictions, while Google is allowed to invade Heroes Day celebrations and to describe the true heroes of Kenya, the aboriginal Ogiek, as if the were already extinct.

UPDATE 14. October 2020: Who should care for the forest? In Kenya, the question sparks violence.

UPDATE 22. September 2020: State to resettle and issue title deeds to Mau forest evictees, who are not indIgenous to the Mau Forest.

UPDATE 21. September 2020: Kenya Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang'i, promises peace deal, but fails to address the real issues that are driving the Indigenous First Nation of the Ogiek to extinction. It is a thirty year nightmare for these Aboriginal people of Kenya.

REMEMBER: In 2017 Pope Francis stated clearly: "Indigenous People Should Have Final Say About Their Land"

UPDATE 19. September 2020: Kenya government fails to protect the Ogiek. No end in sight for clashes in Njoro as 40 families displaced

UPDATE 15. September 2020: Land, Politics Form Potent Mix That Leads to War in Mau Forest

UPDATE 07. September 2020: The hidden hand plays 'Divide and Rule': "Ogiek get new heads to push for land rights" is the narrativ, but insiders believe it is just the final straw for the destruction of the Ogiek people. & CS Tobiko now in trouble on eviction

UPDATE 24. August 2020: Kenyan Deputy President Ruto, who hails from the Nandi - a Kalenjin people to which also the Kipsigis belong - called on Ogiek leaders to master the art of championing for inclusion and cohesion, but he seems to forget that it is his people invading Ogiek ancestral lands and attacking. Since decades powerful political leaders from the Maasai (like the late William ole Ntimama) coming from the South and the Kipsigis from the North have tried to annex the Ogie's Mau Forest complex into their territory. In recent times this fight has been enhanced, because the water-wars are on - with massive bids from international corporations for the water-rights of the Mau as water-tower, which supplies the capital Nairobi, on the table. "Just leave us Ogiek in peace on our lands!" one of the participants stated during a burial ceremony, while confirming that three Ogiek, including a 15-year old child, had been killed by police, and three other Ogiek were killed by invaders in recent days. The high number of the many injured Ogiek could not be established exactly.

https://nation.africa/resource/image/1465840/landscape_ratio2x1/960/480/392c8d3c82faf941419f4c0a70e12115/pt/mau1.jpgUPDATE 23. August 2020: The armed attacks targeting the Aboriginal Ogiek people in the Mau forest continue. So far the lives of six members of the Indigenous Ogiek community, including a 15-year-old child killed by police-bullets, have been lost during the ongoing unrest, triggered by evictions and demarkation excercises launched by the government. The attackers are said to hail from the Kipsigis people, a part of the Kalenjin group of Southern-Nilotes, who settled outside the Mau forest complex only some 200 years ago, but became strong under the late former President Moi. They are often instrumentalized for political gains and then grab land under protection of powerful people. But also a government-led "conservation" excercise under UN Agenda 21/30 causes conflict by carving out areas of ancestral Ogiek lands in violation of an African Union court ruling and without the prescribed consent from the Ogiek.

UPDATE 12. August 2020: Oakland Institute: Kenya’s Ogiek Community fighting Evictions from their Lands

UPDATE 08. August 2020: Multi-agency team to re-mark Mau borders

UPDATE 07. August 2020: Threats, politics and evictions: Who will save East Africa’s most important forest?

UPDATE 31. July 2020: Violent Inter-ethnic Clashes Erupt at Njoro, Nakuru County, Scores of Shops and Houses Burnt Down!

UPDATE 25. July 2020: Kenya’s forest communities face eviction from ancestral lands – even during pandemic

UPDATE 24. July 2020: KFS GOES AGAINST CS ENVIRONMENT DIRECTIVES & Slow Food supports evicted Ogiek Community with a fundraising campaign. 

UPDATE 22. July 2020: Draw clear borderline for Mau, says the Ogiek First Nation

UPDATE 19. July 2020: Kenyan Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko fails to attend highly publicized meeting with the Ogiek - the Indigenous people and owners of the Mau forest. The post-colonial governance of Kenya drags their feet and tries to fool the Ogiek since 30 years, thereby violating international law.

UPDATE 17. July 2020: State goes against own moratorium, kicks thousands out of forest

PROLOGUE: Under the cover of medical-martial law imposed also in Kenya on all people due to the COVID-19 scare, the Kenya government commits again atrocities against the Indigenous Ogiek people inside their Mau Forest. Despite highest rulings from the African Union court and the Kenyan High Court, the secret forces behind these evictions of Indigenous People, who want to clear the way for water extortion schemes together with the international freshwater-Mafia (led by Vivendi and Nestle), have never let loose. The defence of the Ogiek against the land-grabbers has been going on since colonial times, but had to be intensified since 1992. The scam is obvious: First they push landless poor people from other communities into these Indigenous forest lands and then they evict them together with the rightful inhabitants and owners of these forests. The fake title deed scams were already uncovered by the Ndungu Land Commission as well as by the Mau Task Force. And once again rogue gangs of heavily armed and poorly trained Kenya Forest Service (KFS) rangers are ordered to carry out these illegal acts. Like in Brazil this leads now to a situation where international donors must be urged to withdraw funding from the Kenya government due to these persistent violations of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. What is seriously missing in Kenya since 50 years for all the Indigenous Peoples of the colonial construct, which is called Kenya, is an Independent Truth and Reconstitution Commission that would deal with and rectify once and for all times the colonial injustices that are carried on by the post-colonial governance. Fact is that the British stole large parts of the Mau Forest from the aboriginal Ogiek people and turned them into governmental forest areas, which are until now illegally occupied and poorly managed by the KFS. Those parts of the Mau forest as well as the others into which the Ogiek were pushed shall obviously now be totally depopulated in a move that follows the hidden New World Order agenda of the UN with SDG, the so-called Great Reset and the interests of Globalists corporations and banksters (incl. WorldBank, ICLEI, WEF), who want these lands for collateral and resources. Until these injustices are addressed and settled no reconciliation can ever occur. Likewise the menace to sell their literal "grandmothers" - ie. the natural lands of the Indigenous people - to the UN Agenda 21/30 for cruel IMF and WorldBank loans, that also impose the fake PCR tests and lockdowns ruining the Kenyan economy, must stop.

Mau evictions: KFS identifies forest boundary as Ogiek cry foul

By FRANCIS MUREITHI - 17. July 2020

Summary

  • At least more than 300 houses have been torched by the KFS officers after the owners removed their belongings.
  • There was tension in Mariashoni trading centre as it emerged that structures in the area had been  earmarked for demolition.

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Ogiek Council of Elders chairperson Joseph Kimaiyo Towett (second left) and Molo Deputy County Commissioner David Wanyonyi (second right) and other members of the community at Mariashoni, in Eastern Mau Forest in Molo on July 16, 2020. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

After a public outcry over ruthless evictions of illegal settlers in Eastern Mau Complex in Mariashoni in Molo, Nakuru County, the government has launched an exercise to identify the forest cutlines.

But even, as the government moves to identify the forest boundaries, members of Ogiek community, who are targeted, claim the exercise is in contempt of court.  

Ogiek Council of Elders Chairperson Joseph Kimaiyo Towett stated the exercise was illegal.

“The exercise is supposed to be conducted by the Lands Commission who will put the beacons and map those who are in the forest land for resettlement,” said Mr Towett.

HARASSMENT

He added: “What is happening now in Mariashoni is harassment of the Ogiek through an illegal exercise. Molo Deputy County Commissioner cannot use handpicked elders without consulting the Ogiek and take them to the forest to show them fake cut-lines,” said Mr Towett.

Senior counsel Gibson Kamau Kuria representing the Ogiek community, on July 14 wrote to Regional Commissioner George Natembeya to stop further evictions.

“If the evictions continue, we shall go to court to have those assisting in the illegal process committed to jail for contempt of court,” said Mr Kamau.

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Kenya Forest Service rangers and police officers combing Eastern Mau Forest in Mariashoni in Molo, Nakuru County on July 16, 2020. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

On March 14, 2014 Environment and Lands Court Justice Pauline Nyamweya directed the National Land Commission to within one year of her judgment open a register of members of the Ogiek community in consultation with their cuncil of elders and identify land for their settlement.  

On Thursday, Molo Deputy County Commissioner David Wanyonyi, accompanied by KFS officials and heavily armed contingent of police officers toured the water tower and identified the boundaries in the presence of some elders.

They were accompanied by two government surveyors who did not have the area map, nor did they put beacons on the purported cut-lines. This raised suspicion among the elders and affected community.

When contacted on the issue of mapping out the cutlines, Mr Wanyonyi declined to comment.

FOREST LAND

“Anything about interview is not possible now. Those are the orders we have as at now. Let us finish the whole exercise because if we engage in too much talk, this work will not be finished…in case of fielding the questions wait for the regional commissioner who will visit this place,” Mr Wanyonyi told Nation.

However, a source in the enforcement team told the Nation that on Wednesday, they held a meeting with Mr Natembeya, KFS officials and picked 10 elders from the area to validate the exercise.

“The evictees have no problem moving out of the forest land, what they want is to be shown where the cutline is and that is what we are doing,” said the source.

There was tension in Mariashoni trading centre as it emerged that structures in the area had been earmarked for demolition.

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A team of Kenya Forest Service rangers, administrators and Kenya Police Service officers at Eastern Mau forest in Mariashoni in Molo, Nakuru County on July 16, 2020. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI |NATION MEDIA GROUP

At least 5,300 members of the Ogiek are targeted for eviction as the government moves to restore the water tower. So far, only less than 1,000 members of the community have been resettled by the government.

At least more than 300 houses have been torched by the KFS officers after the owners removed their belongings.

Kenya Forest Service is undertaking a multi-agency operation to reclaim Logoman, Sururu, Likia, Kiptunga, Mariashoni, Nessuit, Baraget and Oleposmoru forests within Mau Forest Complex. The operation started on June 27, 2020. 

The mission of the operation is to stop all illegal human activities from government forests which form the Eastern side of Mau Forest Complex. At least 4500 hectares of forest land has been reclaimed, 945 illegal structures destroyed.

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MUST READ: RESIST THE GRAB OF INDIGENOUS LANDS

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LEARN MORE AND SUPPORT THE OGIEK

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UPDATES:

Ogiek protest against plan to settle Mau land dispute

By  Eric Matara - 

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Ogiek community leaders speak to the press in Nakuru town on October 22, 2020 on the government's proposals to resettle members evicted from Mau Forest in 1988 and 1989. Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

 

  • At the centre of the storm is the implementation of the May 26, 2017 landmark judgement by the Arusha-based African Court on Human and People’s Rights.
  • Council of Elders Chairman John Sironga has threatened to lead the community in a major demonstration to State House Nairobi to register their displeasure with the way the government is handling the matter.

The government's bid to resolve Eastern Mau Forest land disputes is facing headwinds after the Ogiek threatened to withdraw from the process, citing dishonesty of State officials.

At the centre of the storm is the implementation of the May 26, 2017 landmark judgement by the Arusha-based African Court on Human and People’s Rights.

The court ordered the government to take all appropriate measures to remedy violations against the community following past evictions from their ancestral land in Mau Forest.

But as a multi-agency team formed by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i races against time to resolve the perennial land disputes in Eastern Mau, leaders from the community say the government is not honest as it is not keen to implement the landmark judgement.

The Ogiek, through Council of Elders Chairman John Sironga, have opposed the process.

“The State is not keen to implement the Arusha judgment, and we have no option but to reject the process. We want President Kenyatta to implement the judgment to the letter. The team appointed to address the issue did not involve us fully,” he said.

“The process, as it is, is a violation of the community’s rights. We will not allow the exercise to continue,” he added.

Major demonstration

Mr Sironga has threatened to lead the community in a major demonstration to State House Nairobi to register their displeasure with the way the government is handling the matter.

The community is seeking to be given a communal title deed of at least 15,000 hectares.

They have called for proper implementation of the judgement covering the Ogieks living in Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Londiani and Narok.

Mr Daniel Kobei, the executive director of Ogiek Peoples’ Development Programme, an NGO that brought the case against the government before the African Commission on Human and Peoples” Rights in 2009, said: “We’re demanding at least 15,000 hectares only in the Eastern Mau. We don’t want the five acres being offered by government... The government should use the 2017 African court judgement as it seeks to resolve the rampant land tussles in the area.”

Mr Kobei added: “We want to be given the block between Teret and Barargei so we help protect the forest.”

The Ogiek have been arguing that if resettled in their ancestral land, they will protect and take care of the Mau Forest water tower through community forest protection associations.

20-year tussle

Mr Joseph Towett, another leader from the community, said justice for the Ogiek has been delayed. “The government has been renewing the term of the task force it appointed to implement the judgment since 2018. We now want it to implement the judgement to the letter,”Mr Towett told the Nation.

Their remarks come a month, after Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya visited Nessuit to start resolving the more-than-20-year-land tussle. He assured residents that no one would be evicted.

The administrator revealed that President Kenyatta will issue title deeds in December after the taskforce completes the exercise of resettling the residents.

The President had directed that the team completes its mandate by December 12.

The resolution to form the multi-agency team followed a meeting with the Ogiek, Kipsigis and other communities from Eastern Mau Forest in Naivasha last month. Dr Matiang’i said the African Court orders would be followed to the letter.

“We have agreed to accommodate everyone while addressing special requirements that came as a result of a court order from the East African Court of Justice,” Dr Matiang’i said.

Since July when the government started plans to evict illegal settlers, flare-ups have rocked the region. Dozens of people have been killed and others maimed due to the protracted land dispute.

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Prologue: Please note: a) The Ogiek do not just claim it - it is their land!!! The colonial injustices still have not been reconciled - actually it has only become worse, despite the African Union court ruling in their favour and against the governmental machinations.

b) Rhino Ark is a front for the interests of UN Agenda 21/30 (especially the planned depopulation of "wilderness areas"), was founded by white Kenyans and kept on the task by foreign funds. The organization never had and does not have the interests of Indigenous peoples at their heart. Their annual key event - the "Rhino Charge" for 4WD maniacs, who drive over everything, just shows that their "green agenda" is just camouflage.The organization has just ring-fenced the Aberdares Forest, once the homeland of the now extinct Gumbo people and fosters the interests foreign water corporations to have in the Ogiek's Mau Forest as water tower and main supply for the ever growing capital of Nairobi. 

c) The "reporter" hails from the Kalenjin people, who since long have been on the forefront to grab Ogiek land. Him wishing the Ogiek to give up their self-determination also in terms of culture, economy and lifestyle clearly shows the bias.

d) To depict the Ogiek with facemasks is just another horrific attempt to show that the oppressors have reached them again.

Ogieks (sic!) open up to the world

For decades they were flushed out of the Mau Forest, which they claim to be their ancestral land

By GILBERT KOECH - 21. October 2020

In Summary

• In 2017, continental court ruled the Kenyan government had violated their rights

• From a closeted existence, the community is now trading in herbs, honey, baskets and tree nurseries 

Ogiek community member demonstrates his honey-harvesting prowess

Ogiek community member demonstrates his honey-harvesting prowess Image: GILBERT KOECH

For the last 30 years, Kiptigit Sigira, 100, has known no peace of mind. His Ogiek community has battled government agencies for resettlement after they were kicked out of the Mau Forest Complex.

“Our lives revolved around hunting and gathering. Some people came from nowhere and started destroying our home,” he says with nostalgia.

“That is when the government started having issues with our stay in the forest, a place I have known as home for several decades.”

Sigira says his community, South Western Mau, has for decades been routinely subjected to arbitrary forced evictions from their ancestral land in the Mau Forest by the government, without consultation or compensation.

This has hurt the pursuit of their traditional lives, access to natural resources and their very existence as an indigenous people.

In 2017, the community won a landmark case against the Kenyan government on their rights to life, property, natural resources, development, religion and culture.

The Ogieks, 35,000 of whom were represented in the landmark case, live in the Mau Forest complex.

They are one of the last remaining forest-dwelling communities and among the most marginalised indigenous peoples in the country.

But they are slowly coming to terms with the fact that their continued stay in the forest may not, after all, be sustained. They have thus started aligning with the outside world.

For instance, their children now go to school. They have also commercialised their bee keeping, which previously they did to get honey for their own consumption. They have also started selling medical products from the herbs they gather and raising tree nurseries for sale.

The Star toured the forest along with Rhino Ark fence/community manager for South Western Mau Alfonse Kiprono and community outreach officer Thomas Mutai.

Members of the Ogiek community light fire using their age-old methods

Members of the Ogiek community light fire using their age-old methods Image: GILBERT KOECH

FOREST GUARDIANS

Sigira, who hails from Tinet ward, Kuresoi South constituency, says they have jealously guarded the forest as it is their source of livelihood.

Apart from the herbs they harvest from the forest, it also provides them with a spiritual hub.

“We pray in such sacred places whenever we have good harvests. We also pray whenever we have diseases, such as corona,” he says.

The community has also perfected the art of bee keeping thanks to the support of stakeholders such as Rhino Ark, a conservation NGO.

Already, herbalists from the community are commercialising their herbal products. Rhino Ark has also trained them on how to raise indigenous tree nurseries, which they then sell to the NGO and other organisations.

Weldon Rono, secretary of the Ndoinet Ogiek Community Forest Association, says they have 1,294 members drawn from Tinet and Kiptororo locations.

Ndoinet forest block is one among the three forest stations that form the South Western Mau within the Mau Conservancy in Bomet county. The other two are Mara Mara and Itare forest stations.

The forest station has an area of 20,032ha with two distinct blocks: a smaller block of 32ha surrounded by farmlands in Nakuru county, where the station offices are located, and a larger block with an area of 20,000ha located about 6km from the station block.

Rono says they need a cultural centre, where the artefacts from the community can be stored for posterity.

Fred Onyango, a forester within Ndoinet, says communities adjacent to the forest reap massive benefits from protecting it.

Ogiek elders perform prayers at their sacred place

Ogiek elders perform prayers at their sacred place Image: GILBERT KOECH

NEW LIVELIHOODS

Among the commercial activities they are engaging in are bee keeping and raising indigenous tree nurseries.

The community also has plans to make money from trading in herbs. One such herbalist is Wilson Kimochoi, who says he successfully treated cancer that attacked his right leg.

“We have herbal medicines that can kill cancer within the expansive forest. I used it for two weeks and got healed,” he said as he pointed out a scar in his leg. 

The Star could not verify if indeed he had cancer or had been cured of it.

Kimochoi, 67, says he heals his clients at a cost of Sh2,000 after his father blessed him with the trade. He said he has since cured four patients successfully.

Women, on other hand, are making beautiful items from forest products, such as baskets.

Ogiek Council of Elders chairman Joseph Barno said his council, the apex of decision making, is composed of 25 old men and 10 women.

To help spread the conservation gospel, the community uses conservation champions. Bernard Yegon and Faith Cherono are among them.

“We have a curriculum book that has already been formulated to help schools during environmental education,” Yegon says.

They have also roped in faith-based organisations. “Previously, the community was rigid on matters conservation. However, they have embraced it with both hands as they believe what we tell them as their children,” Yegon adds.

Scouts from the community are also in the forefront of fighting illegal activities, such as poaching.

Women from the Ogiek community display their skills

Women from the Ogiek community display their skills Image: GILBERT KOECH

FOREST REHABILITATION 

Rhino Ark area community manager Alfonse Kiprono said raising awareness among the youth adjacent to the forest remains a key goal.

“We have developed a comprehensive conservation education curricula for 46 schools, both primary and secondary, found within eight kilometres of the forest boundary,” Kiprono said.

He said a survey they did in 2018 covering 46 forest adjacent schools showed they used approximately 75 tonnes of firewood each month.

A solution had to be found. They have since introduced energy-efficient stoves for the schools.

Aware that rehabilitating the degraded forest is a mammoth task, Kiprono said they have brought various stakeholders under the initiative for sustainable landscapes to pool resources and expertise.

Despite the rehabilitation efforts, huge herds of cattle are still getting into the forest in search of pasture.

Rhino Ark has partnered with the Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service to save the forest. They have been conducting surveillance flights above the forest to monitor illegal activities.

The scouts from the community are also involved in monitoring the rare species mountain Bongo, which are said to be in the forest.

When people living next to forests protect them

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PROLOGUE: Kenya's pride is going down the drain. While during Mashujaa (Heroes) Day 2020 only few of the selected Kenyans could be bestowed with the awards due to government imposed COVID-restrictions following the neo-colonial IMF demands and to get their governmental hands on the loans, the government seems to be eager to even lockdown the economies of Kena's biggest hubs like Nairobi and Mombasa again - thereby ignoring science and the new WHO guidelines, which clearly speak against any lockdowns. But instead of honoring all their heroes, Kenya allowed neo-imperial US-American tech giant GOOGLE to invade the celebrations and to depict 44 Indigenous nations of the colonial conglomerate Kenya, among them the Nubians, who were brought by British troops to Kenya in 1870 and today suffer in Kibera/Nairobi, one of Africa's largest slums. Moreover: Who on Earth did permit Google to describe the Ogiek First Nation by using paintings made by colonialists and by referring to colonial writings, as if they were extinct??? All without the consent of the Indigenous Ogiek people themselves, who are very much alive but right now are still hounted to extinction - despite and in violation of the Africa Union Court ruling. THE ABORIGINAL OGIEK ARE NOT JUST IN THE MUSEUM - THEY ARE ALIVE AND FIGHT FOR THEIR UNALIENABLE RIGHTS IN THEIR MAU AND Mt. ELGON FORESTS. And they will win and persevere - against the present-day governance, their neo-colonial Forest or Wildlife Services, against the hidden agenda of the UN, the plans of the WEF, WorldBank and IMF, against the interests of international water-corporations like Vivendi,  against the timber-greed of Indian and Chinese companies and against all odds, traitors as well as the present-day insanity! The Ogiek will survive in their own rights and in self-determination.

4,500 Sleep in Caves Following Night Evictions

By Eddy Mwanza - 18. October 2020

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Mt Elgon families pictured in a cave within the forest..

At least 4,500 people were forced to seek shelter in caves after the government allegedly forced them out of their houses on Saturday night, October 17.

Reports further claimed that the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers went as far as torching the houses to ensure that the communities living within Mt Elgon  don't go back to occupy the said land.

The government argued that the evictions were necessary in order to conserve the Embobut and Mau Forest which serve as important watersheds. 

Families from the Ogiek community were forced to brave the cold within overnight, with most turning to makeshift bonfires to keep warm.

Kitum caves in Mt Elgon.

Kitum caves in Mt Elgon. - File photo

Images of mothers cooking inside the caves were shared on various media platforms, leading some to question the move by government to evict the indigenous community.

"What would happen if our forefathers were to rise up? Is this what they will be confronted with?" a disgruntled Kenyan questioned.

The government has repeatedly claimed that preserving this ecosystem took priority over land claims of the Ogiek, Sengwer and others.

Over the last two months, the area District Commissioner has constantly reminded the community to vacate the forest before they’re forcibly evicted.

For the last 40 years the Ogiek have not had a permanent place of settlement. The place which they thought of as home, Chepkitale, was clandestinely gazetted as a national game reserve in the year 2000.

The Ogiek believe a huge area, stretching from the Ugandan border through a national park created in 1968, and down into farmland below the forest, is their ancestral land. 

The Ogiek community have written bylaws to ensure protection of the forest, which have been shared with government agencies, as part of their fight to convince the authorities that they had coexisted with the forest and its wildlife for centuries. 

They were also working with the KFS and Kenya Wildlife Service to hand over poachers and illegal charcoal burners.

However, a great deal of destruction is evident in the forest reserve that borders Mount Elgon national park. Entire hillsides have been stripped of trees to make way for maize farming. [N.B.: ... caused mostly by illegal invaders from elsewhere settled under voter-buying scams.

A Kenya Forest Service officer looks at the massive destruction of the Maasai Mau Forest in Kosian area of Narok South subcounty

A Kenya Forest Service officer looks at the massive destruction of the Maasai Mau Forest in Kosian area of Narok South subcounty. File photo

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Who should care for the forest? In Kenya, the question sparks violence.

Why We Wrote This

Amid debates over deforestation, and its causes and solutions, it’s easy to forget one crucial component of forest stewardship: the Indigenous people who often live there.

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By Geoffrey Kamadi  - 14. October

More than three years after a landmark case recognizing its ancestral home, an Indigenous, forest-dwelling community in Kenya continues to face forced eviction by the government. 

Living deep in Kenya’s Mau Forest Complex, the Ogiek people spent 12 years in the Kenyan courts seeking legal redress and acknowledgment of their rights to their homeland. When that proved unfruitful, they turned to the international stage. 

After eight more years pursuing justice in the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in May 2017, that court handed down a ruling recognizing the community’s claim to the Mau Forest Complex. 

Despite that landmark ruling, the Ogiek say that they have continued to be driven from their homes. After years of delays, they hope to air their grievances before the court again during its next regular session in Arusha, Tanzania, in late November. At stake is the principle of who can best protect a forest: the government, with all of its resources and expertise, or the people who live there.

“We have now become synonymous with evictions from our ancestral land,” says Daniel Kobei, a Mau-Ogiek community representative, citing recent events in which 300 homes were destroyed by Kenya Forest Service personnel. 

“We are now homeless, and have sought shelter among other people, especially in the Marishoni area,” he adds, referencing villages neighboring forest areas where forcible evictions were recently carried out.

From the Kenyan government’s perspective, the evictions are aimed at protecting a vital water resource that has become degraded through human habitation. George Natembeya, an Interior Ministry official who oversees the Mau forest, has denied that the Ogiek are really a forest-dwelling community.

During a community meeting this summer, he accused some members of the Ogiek community of trying to turn a profit on their land, according to Kenya’s Star newspaper. “We know you have sold your own parcels of land and we will soon kick you out to protect water sources,” he said.

Among the trees

The largest native mountain forest in East Africa stretches through Kenya’s Rift Valley, about 100 miles northwest of Nairobi, the country’s capital. Covering an area of more than 1,500 square miles, the Mau Forest Complex is also Kenya’s largest drainage basin and contains the largest of the country’s five water towers. 

The Ogiek community says that the forest has been its home for more than a thousand years, and provided its people with wild game, fruit, and medicinal herbs. The Ogiek are also known to practice beekeeping, as honey is a big component of their diet. 

But this way of life has severely been eroded, especially with the banning of hunting by the Kenyan government in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Now, the Ogiek have been forced to practice subsistence farming, by growing maize and beans as well as other crops.

The Mau Forest Complex is also the scene of a major environmental disaster. Due to the felling of trees for lumber, charcoal, and farmland, that forest ecosystem has shrunk by nearly 400 square miles since 2000.

Commercial logging has introduced fast-growing cypress and pine trees in place of indigenous ones, which has disrupted honey production. Water, too, has become restricted and contaminated. And members of the community have speculated that a number of bird, insect, animal, and plant species have reduced. Elephants, for example, cannot feed on cypress leaves and have moved elsewhere.

Courtesy of Ogiek Peoples' Development Program

Recent evictions of the Ogiek community from the Mau Forest Complex have led to destruction of property.

Into the cold

Of the 50,000 estimated total population of the Ogiek, the vast majority inhabit the Mau Forest Complex and are also referred to as the Mau Ogiek.  

A smaller community lives on Mount Elgon on the border between Kenya and Uganda. Otherwise, a proportion of its population has since been assimilated into other tribes. 

Other Indigenous communities have also allegedly been destroyed by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) recently. Amnesty International reported that, on July 10, perhaps as many as 28 homes belonging to the Sengwer – another forest-dwelling Indigenous community – were burned to the ground in another major native forest, Embobut Forest.

All this is happening during the coldest season in the country, and the mountainous environment in which families are forced out is already quite chilly. This “is a gross violation of really basic human rights,” says Milka Chepkorir, a member of the Sengwer people and a fellow with Natural Justice, a South African nonprofit that specializes in environmental and human rights law. 

And now the evictions are taking place in the middle of the COVID-19 global pandemic, raising health concerns for the displaced communities.

“These recent evictions have affected us really differently this time round,” Ms. Chepkorir says, “because they are taking place in COVID times, when the children are not in school but are playing in the glades.” 

Foreign aid or foreign hindrance? 

Although evictions are intermittent, there seems to have been a protracted period of relative calm and quiet since 2018, says Ms. Chepkorir. 

In January of that year, Robert Kirotich, a Sengwer herdsman was reported to have been gunned down by the KFS guards while tending to his cattle in the forest. This led to the suspension of the European Union-funded Water Towers Protection and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Programme. 

That initiative, launched in June 2016, aims to promote the enhancement of ecosystem services while improving livelihoods in Mount Elgon and Cherangany Hills – where two of the five water towers in Kenya sit. (Embobut Forest in Cherangany Hills is where the Sengwer community is allegedly being driven out.)

“Peace has prevailed for the Sengwer in Embobut Forest following the suspension of this funding, until recently,” says Ms. Chepkorir, alluding to the ongoing talks for resuming the EU funding.

Indications that the funding may resume have fueled mistrust from the Indigenous community. The community is doubtful that this financial backing is sufficiently helpful, and attributes its troubles to the availability of donor money. 

“You are bound to find displacements in regions where there are foreign funding for conservation purposes in Kenya,” claims Mali ole Kaunga, a representative of Il Lakipiak Maasai community, an Indigenous people found in northern Kenya.

Communities in the Kirisia Forest in northern Kenya, says Mr. Kaunga, have been living peacefully there for centuries, without either the KFS or the Forest Department getting involved. However, trouble erupted when the forest management body began demarcating the approximately 140 square miles of this forest.

Mr. Kaunga alleges that the demarcation is driven by the government’s pledge to raise the forest cover in Kenya from the current 7.2% to about 10% by 2022. This has affected a community of about 5,000 people.

Instead of engaging with the community, the government has elected “a top-down approach,” says Maryama Farah of Natural Justice.

One major hurdle for the Ogiek is the lack of titled deeds for the land. Community spokespeople have long complained that a proliferation of fake deeds has resulted in their land being divided. Last year, the Ogiek called on the Kenyan government to grant a communal deed for land in the Mau forest.

A better way?

But around the world, she says, there are many examples of amicable, environment-friendly resolutions that empower Indigenous communities to become owner-conservators of the land they inhabit. 

For example, community-owned forests have been shown to help in expanding natural forest protection in African countries such as Namibia, Gambia, and Tanzania. The same approach is now being employed in Liberia and the Congo. 

“Globally, we are moving towards the recognition that community co-management and conservation is the way to go, when it comes to conserving forests for future generations,” Ms. Farah adds.

A growing body of evidence now shows that honoring land rights of rural people in forests is the foundation for conserving forests sustainably. And such community-centered approaches go a long way toward promoting global conservation.

If progress is to be made, says Mr. Kaunga, there needs to be a decoupling of funding from conservation issues. “The community is open to negotiations, but has not been given the opportunity.”

===

They used and dumped us, Mau evictees claim

By Julius Chepkwony - 07. October 2019

https://cdn.standardmedia.co.ke/images/sunday/hktovetwxi4cl1xotqtw5d9a31f3bd010.jpg
Houses that were flattened in Mau at dawn on Sunday. Inset left: A family flees the area on a motorcycle. Inset right: Police officers on patrol. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Destroyed. Flattened. This best describes what was once Sierra Leone, a shopping centre in the Mau Forest Complex.

The centre is no more after police officers descended on it at about 5am yesterday and demolished all the structures.

At day break, the locals, many of them with broken spirits, were left rummaging through the debris, looking for anything they could salvage.

Donkeys were overwhelmed by the burden on their backs as they carted away their owners' belongings.

Some of the traders watched in disbelief as what was once a source of income was brought down.

The buildings were brought down under the supervision of police officers in what the locals summed up as "being used and dumped by politicians".

Geoffrey Ng'etich said their leaders had abandoned them and they had no option but to leave "however painful it is".

“Where are the people we woke up early in the morning during the last General Election to vote for?” he posed.

“I want you to tell the President, his deputy and all Jubilee leaders from Rift Valley that we are of no use to them now. We pick our pieces and wait for 2022,” added a tearful Ng’etch.

Smallholder farmers

Ng’etch is among smallholder farmers who used to supply fresh farm produce to Narok and Mullot.

Stanley Towett, another resident, bitterly recalled sometime between 2016 and 2017 when they had to be ferried to Nairobi to meet top Jubilee leaders who assured them that they would not be removed from their land. To their surprise, the said leaders have since gone silent.

"The leaders have abandoned us. I remember I was among 51 people who were taken to Deputy President Ruto's residence in Karen just before election. We met him and he assured us of our stay here in the Mau. President Uhuru Kenyatta also assured us of our stay but we are here suffering, where did we go wrong?" Towett said.

Towett claimed Ruto visited Sierra Leone with Narok Governor Samuel Tunai and assured them that they would not be evicted.

"Ruto said our issues had been addressed and we clapped and stood with him. Tunai also took us to a hotel in Naivasha where he told us things had been streamlined and what remained was we assure him of our support," he said.

Towett's Sh500,000 investment at the centre is no more.

The Government had issued a directive to the settlers to leave the Mau Forest but most of them adopted a wait and see approach. Some of them carted away their families and belongings but waited to see if the eviction order would be effected

The demolitions that started last Friday caught many settlers by surprise.

As women and children fled the area, men rummaged through the rubble to recover building materials.

"We are being moved out, none of us is leaving voluntarily. The demolition you are seeing is by force, officers sent here have been moving around since Friday, kicking our shops and telling us to demolish them," said Simeon Lelei.

Lelei wondered whether the 60 days ultimatum the Government issued through Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya had expired.

“It is like the 60 days notice has expired without our knowledge. The Government promised a humane eviction but what we are now seeing is brutality and destruction of property,” he said.

Leonard Lang'at, who operated a lodge, shop and a hotel, said he had suffered huge loss.

“I invested over Sh1 million at the centre and I was making a return of not less than Sh80,000 a month. All that is now gone!” he said, watching pensively at the rubble that was once his business.

Bernard Bett who owned a barber shop and retail outlet said he closed it due to frustrations.

“He lost investment valued at Sh200,000. I do not know what to do next,” said Bett.

His neighbour Catherine Bett, a mother of eight, said her shop was broken into and clothes stolen.

Ms Bett alleged that police officers deployed there were looting the shops before bringing down the buildings.

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner, however, denied the claims.

Mr Natembeya said residents of Sierra Leone are cooperative but those in Kipchoge, Kitoben and Kass FM are trying to resist.

"You cannot resist and we have allowed you time to leave peacefully," said Natembeya.

He said those with crops will be allowed time to go back and harvest and that the officers are manning the crops.

He said some people were financing the resistance, adding that after an officer was shot at Kass FM, one person was arrested with Sh180,000.

Has termed

Former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto has termed the demolition unlawful. 

He said the forced eviction is a disaster and that the Government refused to have discussion yet the matter is in court.

"We don't know what the Government is up to. The land was given out by Government. You can't use force at this time. I'm shocked and surprised even by the deputy president," said Ruto.

Belgut Member of Parliament Nelson Koech said President Uhuru Kenyatta must now pronounce himself on the issue. 

"Uhuru must now pronounce himself on this issue. There are three cases pending in court and the 60-day ultimatum is not over," said Koech

Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta has, however, supported the eviction.

The ODM legislator said the government is right in the eviction to save the Mara ecosystem and the country at large.

Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen has protested the evictions, saying the targeted settlers were not on government land. 

"In efforts to preserve Mau, the Government has conducted evictions in an abusive and unlawful manne," he said.

In August this year, the government announced plans to evict 10,000 people from Maasai Mau forest.

The second phase of the Massai Mau eviction targets people on a block managed by the Narok County Government that is held in trust under the Mau Trust Land.

===

State to resettle and issue title deeds to Mau forest evictees

By Antony Gitonga and Kirsten Kanja - 22. September 2020

https://cdn.standardmedia.co.ke/images/monday/dofbkdyvkrof3hs5f68f2b95e164.jpgInterior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i addresses the Press after a meeting with CSs Charles Keter (Energy), Faridah Karoney, (Lands) and Tobiko Keriako (Environment) and other stakeholders on the perennial land clashes in Eastern Mau at Lake Naivasha Resort, yesterday. [Antony Gitonga, Standard] The government has announced plans to resettle about 40,000 families evicted to reclaim 57,000 acres of Eastern Mau forest.

Speaking yesterday during celebrations to mark International Day of Peace, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said the agreement entered into by the government, Kipsigis, Tugen and Ogiek communities will see the families resettled in 11 weeks.

The government also ceded to some of the demands by members of the three communities who clash every year over land ownership in the area.

“These clashes have been going on for the past two decades and we have orders from the president to resolve this crisis within 11 weeks,” Dr Matiang’i said after a meeting at the Lake Naivasha Resort.

Perennial clashes

Under the agreement, the Ogieks as per a court order will be allocated one block of the land while members of the other two communities will get individual title deeds.

The Cabinet secretary admitted that some government officers mainly from his office and that of Lands had contributed to the current impasse.

“To address all the emerging issues, we have formed a multi-agency-team and we shall take drastic actions on all government officers who have contributed to this problem,” he said.

While thanking the leaders of the three communities, Matiang’i said the Ministry of Lands will conduct a survey and sub-division of the land.

“This problem started in 1994 and the clashes have been a major concern to the government but we are committed to permanently solving this,” he said.

The meeting was attended by Cabinet secretaries Faridah Karoney (Lands), Charles Keter (Energy) and Tobiko Keriako (Environment).

Reverend Ibrahim Mutai of the Kipsigis community termed the move to resettle them timely, saying this would end perennial clashes that have left many dead.

“We thank the president for intervening and making sure that this problem is resolved as we have lived in fear for years,” he said.

Joseph Miringa from the Ogiek community said they would continue to push for community and individual titles deeds.

“We fully support the ongoing process and we hope that we shall get the community and individual title deeds before December,” he said.

This came as an international NGO, Equal Access, praised the country for supporting vulnerable populations such as Somali-Kenyans, North-Eastern communities, and the marginalised through conflict resolution measures.

Equal Access International Country Director Abdirashid Abdullahi also lauded action against individuals who use violence to resolve conflicts.

“The new revenue allocation formula by the government is a great step towards inclusivity. It shows these communities that they belong and does not antagonise them. Issuance of ID cards to young Kenyans at the Coast and in North Eastern is also positive, allowing them to have a vision in their lives and seek to be contributing members of society,” he said.

Mau forest complex, the largest water catchment area in Kenya consists of 22 blocks covering more than 400,000 hectares and extends through seven counties including Narok County.

The forest is the source of at least 12 rivers.

Over the years, evictions have been carried out by the government in an effort to reclaim the lost glory of the water catchment. The evictions happened between 2004 and 2009.

Logging activities

In 2019, during the second phase of evictions in the Maasai Mau forest more than 10,000 people were evicted and the government launched a 10 million tree planting initiative to restore the forest. During phase two of the evictions more than 22,000 hectares of land was recovered.

In February 2018, a 19-member task force was formed to look into the forest resources management and logging activities.

Maasai Mau, one of the 22 forest blocks forming the Mau Forests Complex, has been extensively impacted by illegal settlements, after ballooning of five adjacent group ranches during land sub-division.

Security forces torched or demolished homes and social amenities, including schools, churches and health clinics, rendering many people destitute during evictions. 

[Additional reporting by Julius Chepkwony]

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Matiang'i Leads Multi-Agency Team Formed To End Mau Clashes

By CTV - 

The government has tonight formed a taskforce to seek a lasting solution to the protracted land dispute in Eastern Mau. The 12 member multi agency is expected to investigate causes of clashes in the region, land ownership and report within two and a half months.

Govt sets up multi-agency team to review Eastern Mau Forest cutline

By  - 21. September 2020

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 21 – The Government has set up a multi-agency team to review Eastern Mau cutline, and conduct an audit so as to establish genuine settlers ahead of issuance of title deeds. 

The resolution followed a meeting with the Ogiek, Kipsigis and other communities from Eastern Mau forest over land disputes. 

The meeting was convened by Environment CS Keriako Tobiko, Interior’s Fred Matiangi, Farida Karoney (Lands) and Charles Keter (Energy) following a directive by President Kenyatta to resolve long standing conflicts over land by December 11, 2020. 

Image result for Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko

Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko

CS Matiangi who said the meeting was successful after receiving views from the representatives of the communities, also assured the communities of government’s commitment in ensuring that they are settled.

Matiangi said the orders that were given by the African Court on their settlement will be followed to the letter.

“We have had a very successful meeting. We have taken their views and agreed to begin a journey towards the settlement of their problem of East Mau,” said Matiangi.

In May 2017, the African court delivered a major victory for the Ogiek, recognizing the community’s rights to the Mau Forest as their ancestral home, and their role in protecting it.

The ruling delivered in Arusha, Tanzania, where the court sits, followed repeated evictions of the Ogiek from their ancestral land in the Mau.

It also recognized the Ogiek’s ‘strong attachment’ to the forest, their legal right to live on the forest land, their freedom to practice their traditions and deemed evictions to be disproportionate to conservation aims.

The government told the court it had accepted the judgment.

FRED MATIANGI HOLDS A PEACE MEETING IN NAIVASHA SETTLES OGIEK PERENNIAL LAND DISPUTE!

 | Magical Kenya News

Kenya Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiangi, promises peace deal, but fails to address the real issues driving the Indigenous First Nation of the Ogiek to extinction.

If he would just respect and implement the findings of the the previous Mau Task Force, the report of the Ndungu Land Commission and the ruling of the African Union Court on the Ogiek, he would not need another task-force that is seen locally just as a futile exercise to circumvent justice.

===

Kenya: Abusive Evictions in Mau Forest

Stop Excessive Use of Force; Uphold Guidelines


This June 2019 photo shows Gorofa village, Nkoben area, one of the current settlements for those evicted from Mau forest in July 2018. HRW/Namwaya

(Nairobi) – Authorities in Kenya have not investigated abuses by security officials during the forced evictions of thousands of people from Mau Forest in July 2018 and now are planning more evictions, Human Rights Watch said today. In August 2019, the government announced plans to evict another 60,000 people from the forest. The authorities should ensure that police officials do not use unlawful force, and should provide the residents with adequate notice and compensation as required under Kenyan and international law.

The evictions of people who have settled on forest land are an effort to save the Mau ecosystem, which the authorities say is threatened by ongoing encroachment, heavy deforestation, and illegal settlements. The recent evictions targeted people who have settled on Maasai Mau, a block of Mau forest managed by the Narok county government that is held in trust under the Mau Trust Land. The Kenya Forest Service manages another 21 blocks.

“In efforts to preserve Mau forest, the government has conducted evictions in an abusive, unlawful manner, and isn’t following its own guidelines,” said Otsieno Namwaya, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “While forest conservation goals are laudable, the way the government is carrying out the evictions raises serious human rights concerns.”

In June, Human Rights Watch interviewed 67 people in Maasai Mau and the Narok side, including people who had been evicted, conservation groups, police, and government officials. Researchers found that in early July 2018 a combined team of forest, wildlife, county, and national administration police deployed to the Maasai Mau forest on the Narok side and used excessive force to evict the communities that authorities say encroached forest land.


June 2019: Burned remains of a dwelling of one of those evicted from Mau forest in July 2018. © HRW/Namwaya

At least nine people, including two babies, died during the eviction. The officials beat people, torched homes, and destroyed crops, leaving thousands of people homeless and stranded in the cold. At least four people remain missing, and families say they have received no police support to search for their missing relatives.

In at least three locations, the evicted people moved elsewhere on the edge of the forest, setting up temporary settlements, most of them in Masaita, Gorofa, and Chepalungu villages in Nkoben area, Narok county. Community leaders said government officials evicted them again in December, allegedly to stop them from returning to the forest, destroying their temporary settlements in Gorofa, Masaita, and Chepalungu. But the families later managed to rebuild their temporary structures on those sites.

Officials have told them to return to their places of origin. The people said they had migrated from Bomet, Kericho, or Narok counties to settle on Mau forest land, and some, who had bought the land and acquired ownership documents, had been living there for more than 30 years.

The government has not investigated the deaths, injuries, and other abuses, though at least 30 families reported them to police stations in Narok county. At least two senior government officials in Narok revealed that the official debriefing report described the abuses, including destruction of settlements, food crops, and stores, and brutal treatment of the residents. “The number of houses burned or the number of those injured is in the debriefing report, which we can’t share,” one official said.

The new eviction plans include both people who have land titles and those without, according to government officials. The government has received court permission to cancel titles, contending that, although legal, the land was irregularly allocated and, in some cases, the titles were issued by “unscrupulous” officials. Criminal investigators in the town of Narok told Human Rights Watch that they were investigating government officials, both past and current, and will prosecute those found responsible for the irregular allocation of land and issuance of deeds.

In early August, the Land Ministry nullified over 1,274 title deeds in advance of the evictions. Families with titles have filed a challenge in a Nakuru court, but government officials say that everyone involved, with or without titles, will be evicted.

The people who now live in the scattered settlements on the forest edge said that at around 6 a.m. on July 7, 2018, more than 100 armed security officers from the Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, Narok County Security team, and Rapid Deployment Unit of the Administration Police deployed to the edges of the forest-neighboring villages in Nkoben area such as the Chepalungu, Gorofa, and Masaita areas, on the Narok side of the Maasai Mau forest. They said the police raided homesteads, shot in the air, beat and evicted residents, looted, torched houses, and chased away anyone who came to salvage their goods or crops.

In some cases, the security officers used power saws to cut down houses or, in other instances, simply torched them. Victims said the security officers beat residents with big sticks and gun butts, injuring hundreds, and arrested and detained many others during the three-day operation. A 41-year-old man said:

“When I heard that evictions had started, I left church and went to check on my house. Police blocked me on the way, beating me up. Police were beating anyone who tried to access the houses.”

Human Rights Watch documented 9 deaths, although community leaders estimated that about 30 died. In Kararet village, when security forces evicted all the residents from the Enakishomi ranch, a 45-year-old mother of nine, who was being pursued by the evictions police, slipped and fell in a ditch with her 5-year-old daughter on her back. The daughter, Sharon Chepkoech, died four weeks later from her injuries.

Two people, one a neighbor to the victim and the other a relative, told Human Rights Watch that two other people committed suicide when they realized they had lost all they owned. Both their bodies were found dangling on a rope.

Family members of a man who has been missing since the evictions said that several months later, they had found the remains of a man they suspected was their relative near where the evictions took place. But they said a postmortem was never carried out to determine the man’s identity. In Reiyo area, a group ranch hived off from Mau forest in the 1970s, researchers saw the remains of an unidentified woman, who residents said died during the eviction, still lying in the forest.

Kenya adopted guidelines on evictions in 2009, three years after another violent eviction from Mau forest that the government halted following a court order. According to the guidelines, those being evicted should be given prior notification of at least three months, published in the official government gazette and served to the affected people individually or, where that is not possible, pinned in an open place where everyone can see it.

The guidelines require the authorities to ensure that no one is left homeless and to ensure adequate consultation with affected communities to develop or communicate a comprehensive plan for resettlement and compensation.

Government officials said they had issued adequate notice, including hosting public meetings with communities a month beforehand. But the people interviewed said they were unaware of the government’s plan to evict them.

 


Taken in June 2019, internally displaced people at Masaita camp. They were evicted from Mau forest in July 2018. © HRW/Namwaya

No one interviewed has been compensated or resettled, and government officials in Narok said there is no plan for either resettlement or compensation, including for those individuals who had deeds to the land, as it was forest land and should never have been allocated to individuals. On August 18, the cabinet secretary for the environment, Keriako Tobiko, called the land encroachment a crime for which there can be no compensation: “You cannot pay people for crime. In fact, the government is being lenient. In normal circumstances, it jails people for crime.”

Under international law, forced evictions are a gross violation of human rights, and states must take all measures possible to prevent forced evictions. States have the responsibility to ensure compensation for the displaced communities, irrespective of whether they hold title deeds. The authorities should also respect the right to property of any individual, family, or community that owned the land. Where forced evictions are inevitable due to exceptional circumstances, such as where it is in public interest, the authorities are still required to adhere to international standards, including accountability for violations, as well as nondiscrimination and attention to vulnerable and marginalized groups.

The Kenyan government should ensure that abuses during forced evictions in Maasai Mau in 2018 are investigated and those responsible held to account, and that any ongoing evictions are carried out in a manner that respects national and international standards.

“Kenya’s government should ensure that evictions in the name of conservation are humane and lawful,” Namwaya said. “The authorities should address the past violations before proceeding with more evictions and ensure that evictions meet international and national standards.”

For details about the situation and accounts by victims, please see below.

Map showing Mau forest. The Nkoben area, on the Maasai Mau side of the forest, was the site of forceful evictions in 2018.


Map showing Mau forest. The Nkoben area, on the Maasai Mau side of the forest, was the site of forceful evictions in 2018. © 2019 John Emerson/Human Rights Watch

History of Mau Forest Evictions

Originally covering over 400,000 hectares, according to the Narok deputy county commander, the Mau Complex of 22 blocks, extending through 7 counties, is the largest forest in Kenya and the single most important water catchment in the Rift Valley and western Kenya. The forest is the source of at least 12 rivers that feed into 3 lakes – Victoria, the world’s second largest freshwater lake, Nakuru, and Naivasha. In line with its climate change commitments, including reducing the levels of greenhouse gas emissions and the risks of drought or floods, Kenya’s government has been evicting people from the forest since 2004 to reclaim encroached forest land. Private conservationists and Land Ministry officials estimate this land at around 40,000 hectares.

Kenyan officials have said they are alarmed at the rate of encroachment and deforestation in Mau forest. Government officials and staff at a conservation group that works in Narok said that, according to their research, illegal settlements and deforestation of the Mau are altering the whole Mau ecosystem, leading to prolonged droughts, drying of rivers, and death of animals in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

At least 40 percent of the forest cover has been depleted by deforestation and encroachment by more than 50,000 people who authorities say were irregularly allocated land by government officials since 1974. Some have managed, with the help of “unscrupulous” government officials, to acquire ownership documents such as titles, according to a conservation group working in the Mau. “When it rains nowadays, we experience peak flows that are very high and very low base flows,” an official of the group said. “During recent drought in 2009 and 2019, Mara River and other rivers in the Mau basin dried up completely. If the Mau was intact like it was 50 years ago, the rivers would not have dried up.”

A land official in Narok said that the government aims to reclaim land that residents unlawfully occupied in block 22, the Maasai Mau, on the side of Narok county. Kenyan authorities allocated forest land to group ranches – tracts of 200-250 hectares for group farming and commercial activities, which is provided for under Kenyan law – and to individuals between 1973 and 1985. That was followed by another round of allocations in 2001. But Land Ministry officials say that some group ranches extended boundaries unlawfully into forest areas or subdivided the land to individuals, contrary to regulations.

Since 2004, Kenyan authorities have been trying to conserve Mau forest. An initial 100,000 people were evicted between 2004 and 2006, with serious abuses, according to Amnesty International and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. The evictions stopped when the High Court in Nakuru awarded an injunction on behalf of seven people who had titles, which the government said it had canceled. The court said the government could not revoke titles without court orders.

In 2018, the authorities sought court permission to cancel the titles on the basis that the Mau forest land was irregularly acquired. The court granted the petition in June 2019, authorizing the government to cancel titles ahead of planning new evictions that will, in view of the court order, even include people with titles. The authorities told Human Rights Watch that they will evict all unlawful residents, with or without titles.

On July 7, 2018 the government began the first round of evictions. The second round was scheduled to follow in 2019, but community and political leaders in the Rift Valley have cautioned the government against carrying it out before the case filed in the Nakuru court about the 2018 evictions is concluded.

Government land policy over the last 50 years has contributed to the encroachment, said a 2010 report of the Task Force on Mau Forest Complex, through uncontrolled degazettement and excisions of forests and allocation of land to individuals, in some cases irregularly.

The government’s excision of land for group ranches between 1973 and 1985, five of which have since extended boundaries and encroached into the forest, is an example. The five – Sisian, Enkaroni, Enosokon, Anakishomi, and Reiyo – have enhanced their allocated area by an extra 1,807 hectares, according to a Land Ministry official. In 2001, the government excised another 61,587 hectares of the forest to allocate to individuals. Since 2001, communities have encroached on an estimated 29,000 hectares. In the same period, government officials irregularly allocated over 17,000 hectares in the Maasai side of Mau.

2018 Evictions

In June 2019, Human Rights Watch visited camps for the displaced people of Mau in Narok and interviewed 67 people, including victims of forced evictions, community leaders, witnesses, conservationists, officials from Kenya Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Land Ministry, Environment Ministry, national government administrators, and police investigators. Human Rights Watch worked closely with partner organizations in Narok to identify people evicted and community leaders, and further cross checked the information with government officials and police. Researchers focused only on the violations during the July 2018 evictions from the Maasai Mau Forest, Narok county.

Deaths, Missing People

Human Rights Watch found that at least nine people died and others remain missing following the evictions. Witnesses and victims said that the evictions team fired gunshots in the air, in some cases aiming lethal fire at fleeing residents, but most of the people who died fell while fleeing. In June 2019, researchers saw the remains of a man and a woman, who survivors of the evictions said had died after police who were pursuing them shot them dead and abandoned them there.

A relative said that on July 8, 2018, 5-year-old Sharon Chepkoech fell off her 26-year-old mother’s back, as her mother fled the evictions team, which had demolished their house and destroyed their food store. Sharon fell ill and died in Masaita camp a week after the fall, a family member said.

In another incident, a 39-year-old man said that his 52-year-old mother, Elizabeth Tuwei, died at Tenwek mission hospital, Bomet County, in September 2018, where she had been admitted after the evictions. “The evictions team came with power-saws, which they used to destroy everything, including food stores, crops in the farms and all our houses,” said Richard Ng’eno, her son. “My mother collapsed in shock on July 7 when the evictions started and we admitted her at Tenwek hospital, where she died.”. The other victim, Richard Tanui, a neighbor of Elizabeth Tuwei, was fleeing the evictions team when he fell in a ditch in Oruwuit village and died instantly, relatives said.

Relatives of 20-year-old Sharon Ng’etich and 12-year-old Mercy Chepkoech, a former standard six student at Reiyo Primary school, both of Chepalungu camp, said the two have not been seen since the day of the eviction. Sharon’s husband said: “My wife was seriously affected psychologically by the eviction, and she went missing when the eviction was still going on. She left me with three children, and we have never seen her again.”

A survivor said that, on July 7, in Lebekwet village, the evictions team, including administration police and Kenya Wildlife Service police, chased a 24-year-old man, Emmanuel Sigei, and started beating him: “They beat his neck, back and waist with a big stick until he fainted. They then dug a hole and wanted to bury him. They thought he was dead. People made noise and they stopped. No one has seen Sigei since that day. He could have died.”

Others who died included Gideon Kipkoech, in his 30s, a disabled man who starved to death when the evictions team violently dragged him out of his house and left him outside for days. Samuel Pere, a Maasai in his 50s, died in September 2018, during intercommunal violence between the Kalenjin, who opposed the evictions, and the Maasai, who supported them. The Maasai said that the drying rivers are leading to animal deaths in Maasai Mara Game reserve, with a negative impact on tourism, which is an economic mainstay for the Maasai in Narok county. Two other bodies of people who died there during the evictions were still uncollected in the forest at the time of the visit.

Beatings, Looting

All those interviewed said that a combination of wildlife police, forest police, county government security team, and the national administration police raided homesteads at 6 a.m. for three successive days, shooting in the air to disperse people and beating people, torching houses, destroying crops, and looting households and food stores. But government officials denied that the eviction was forceful.

A senior warden with Kenya Wildlife Service, Dickson Ritan, who was the head of the evictions team, said: “The process was very smooth. People were not evicted. They were just asked to move out, and this took just three days. We assisted people to carry their goods from their houses.” The deputy county commissioner for Narok, Arthur Bunde, who was part of the team that planned the evictions, said that the evictions were largely peaceful and only those who resisted were forced out, and there was no looting by the evictions’ officers.

All the 67 victims interviewed, including those who had escaped unhurt, said the authorities used force, including shooting at people. A 35-year-old man in Masaita camp who owned a shop, said that, when the evictions team raided his home on July 8, it demolished his shop, burned down his houses, destroyed crops, and beat him and his mother. His mother, Ruth Sigei Laboso, 55, fell and broke her leg as she tried to flee, he said.

A 93-year-old grandfather said police raided his Ororuit village home on July 8, beat him and his10 children, burned his three houses, clothes, and crops. Police beat one of his sons, 30-year-old Bernard Kiprotich, for instance, with sticks on the back and head, injuring him. Police forcefully took Ksh30,000 (USD300) from Kiprotich and never returned it. Kiprotich reported the incident at Malelo police station but police have never investigated it.

At least 30 people interviewed said the evictions team looted their household items, destroyed their food stores, and carried away the food. Julius Bor, 48, said that police burned down his food store with 30 bags of beans, 150 bags of corn, 15 sacks of potatoes, and 3 sacks of onions. Three men interviewed, one currently in Gorofa area and the other two in Chepalungu area, said the security team carrying out the evictions slaughtered and feasted on their goats, sheep, and cows.

Failure to Uphold Eviction Guidelines

Human Rights Watch found that Kenyan authorities have failed to respect both national and international laws, according to which all victims of forced evictions are entitled to adequate compensation and resettlement. Government officials in Narok told researchers that government would not compensate or resettle evictees, as they had encroached government land.

In addition, the authorities did not issue adequate notice to the affected people. Government officials said they informed people a month in advance of the evictions, and later issued with a two-week notice. But the guidelines require at least 90 days’ notice served individually to each person, and those interviewed said that residents were unaware of the intended evictions.

The guidelines require government officials to initiate consultations with the affected communities on the eviction plan, providing full information on the alternative settlement sites and compensation. The guidelines say: “The government shall ensure that, in the event that agreement cannot be reached on the proposed alternative by the affected persons, groups and communities and the entity proposing the forced eviction in question, the dispute shall, in the first instance, be referred to Mediation Committee consisting of representatives from the affected group, officials from the Ministry of Lands, representatives from the party intending to carry the eviction and a representative from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.”

The guidelines require the government to take special measures to ensure that there is no arbitrary deprivation of property or possessions as a result of eviction. Property and possessions left behind involuntarily should be protected against destruction, arbitrary, and illegal appropriation, occupation, or use.

But victims said that no one has been compensated and that the authorities have yet to compile a record of those evicted with the view to either compensating or resettling them. Since July 2018, the environment cabinet secretary Keriako Tobiko has repeatedly said to the media that none of those evicted would be compensated as they had illegally encroached on government land.

“Instead of getting money to resettle them, we want then to go back to where they came from. Some have returned titles willingly and gone back to where they came from,” said Arthur Bunde, the deputy county commissioner for Narok.

Lack of Accountability for Violations

Although Kenyan media have widely reported on the abusive evictions and some people have said they reported beatings and destructions of property to police, Human Rights Watch found that Kenyan authorities have not investigated them. A senior government official in Narok said that, after the eviction, the government carried out an assessment, which included details, including “how many houses were burned where.” Kenyan authorities have not released this assessment to the public.

A senior police officer in Narok attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations said that, even though he has been tasked to lead a team investigating issues relating to the Mau evictions, they are not looking into abuses resulting from the evictions. A Kenya Wildlife Service official in Narok who participated in the evictions said the authorities have not investigated the abuses because there were none: “No one has reported any abuses, whether its killings or beatings. The process was very peaceful. Our officers just escorted them out of the forest.”

At least 57 people interviewed described how the evictions team either looted homes and food stores or used violence against people. At least 30 said they had made official reports, including about deaths resulting from the evictions, at police stations in Narok but there has been no follow up.

Police have failed to intervene in intercommunal violence stemming from the evictions. The Maasai support government efforts to conserve Mau, including through evictions, while the Kalenjin, who have gradually moved into the forest since the 1974, have resisted. At least two Maasai families, including one that lost a relative during the intercommunal violence in September, said that police have failed to investigate the violence even though the affected families made official reports at police stations.

The family of William Pere, who was killed in mid-September inside Mau forest, where he had gone to retrieve his livestock when the violence erupted, said they made an official report at both Gorofa police post and Lulung’a police station. Although officers from Lulung’a station visited the crime scene, no further investigations have taken place since, and no one has been held to account.

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No end in sight for clashes in Njoro as 40 families displaced

By Kennedy Gachuhi - 19. September 2020

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Residents flee Kamonoso village following clashes in Neissuit and Mariashoni in Njoro and Molo. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Tension remains high in parts of Njoro and Molo, Nakuru County as communities living at the edges of the Eastern block of Mau Forest continue to clash. 

The Government on Thursday set up two General Service Unit camps in the volatile area as the ethnic clashes escalate.

So far, the violence has left eight people dead and seven injured. One of the injured victim who had an arrow lodged in his eye was transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital where the weapon was removed but he lost his eye.

Nakuru County Commander Tito Kilonzi said the security personnel were deployed to quell the violence that has in the past one week left 40 families displaced.

“We have set up two GSU camps within Nessuit which is the most affected. A contingent of GSU officers has been deployed to de-escalate the rising tension,” said Kilonzi.

The county police boss explained that the violence is linked to land issues, which has caused ethnic divisions between members of the Kipsigis and Ogiek communities residing in the region.

The recent evictions of families from the forest is said to have triggered the fresh of violence, which has been recurring almost every year.

Peace and order

Business premises and homes at Kapkarang and Kamanoso trading centres have been reduced to a rubble.

Twenty more houses were torched in attacks reported within the past week.

Kilonzi noted that the decision to deploy more officers was to realize quick restoration of peace and order in the area.

“This is a unit known to give quick results especially where there is no peace and order. The GSU officers will remain there until a time when the Government will review the situation,” said Kilonzi.

Violence among the communities erupted in June following announcement of government plans to evict families that have encroached the Eastern block of Mau Forest.

Police reports indicate that at least eight people have been killed since July, with the latest victim losing his life during the Saturday night attack that left seven others injured.

When The Standard team visited the area on Thursday, it was evident that some parts of Neissuit, Ndoswa and Mariashoni are still inaccessible without police escort.

GSU officers were setting up camps at Ogiek Secondary and Ndoswa Primary schools.

Along the way, we met with droves of women and children escaping to unknown destinations. The homes were deserted and very few men were in sight.

Among them was Mercy Chepkorir and her three children carrying a few items she managed to salvage after her house was torched on Wednesday evening.

Opposite direction

“I was inside my house when I spotted men hiding in my maize farm. I took my children and fled in the opposite direction,” said Chepkorir.

While interviewing residents at Kamanoso Trading Centre half of which has been razed down, a group of youths set ablaze a home about kilometre to the West as the police kept at bay a different group targeting another home.

Earlier this month, a multi-agency team set up beacons to indicate the boundary between the Mau Forest and the settlement schemes.

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Land, Politics Form Potent Mix That Leads to War in Mau Forest

By Eric Matara - 15. September 2020

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 photo: Vitalis Kimutai

What you need to know:

  • Violence in the region has over time made the Mau Forest conservation efforts a hard nut to crack, with the government at a crossroads over the best way to conduct evictions.
  • The government's latest bid to reclaim sections of the forest in Logoman, Sururu, Likia, Kiptunga, Mariashoni, Nessuit, Baraget and Olposmor has been marred by violence, which has derailed the evictions.
  • Leaders from the region among them Rift Valley Council of Elders chairman Gilbert Kabage and Ogiek Council of Elders chairman Joseph Towett said that, underneath the ethnic strife, was the enduring feeling of historical injustices, that mainly borders on land allocation.

A potent mix of politics, land grievances and a community caught between unresolved historical injustices, including a bid to regain their ancestral land and a push to protect their culture, are behind the frequent flare-ups of violence in the Eastern Mau, the Nation can reveal. 

Violence in the region has over time made the Mau Forest conservation efforts a hard nut to crack, with the government at a crossroads over the best way to conduct evictions with at least 28,500 hectares of the forest land, approximately half of the 57,000-hectare forest block,encroached.

The government's latest bid to reclaim sections of the forest in Logoman, Sururu, Likia, Kiptunga, Mariashoni, Nessuit, Baraget and Olposmor has been marred by violence, which has derailed the evictions.

Key resource

Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya insists that no one will be spared in the evictions.

"The government is determined to reclaim the water tower. Nothing will stop that. The Mau Forest is a key resource which must be protected by all means possible. The state can not be intimidated,” said the tough-talking administrator.

However,the government seems to be handling the matter with kid gloves.

For instance in July, the government kicked off evictions on the fringes of the forest but the exercise has stalled. At the onset of the evictions,politicians in Nakuru claimed that the evictions were selective and mainly targeted the poor.

They claimed that residents were not aware where the forest cutline was. Leaders among them MPs Gideon Keter(nominated), Joseph Tonui (Kuresoi South), Liza Chelule (Woman Rep)and Njoro's Charity Kathambi accuse Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko of bias.

“We have always tried to share our people’s grievances with Mr Tobiko but he rarely listens. How can a lasting solution be found if he remains adamant? He is the reason why a solution cannot be found,”said Mr Keter.

Historical injustices

More evictions were expected in Nessuit, Tachasis Chepkosa, Sururu and Likia targeting about 20,000 households but the government appears to have applied brakes on the exercise, following months of violence between the Ogiek and the Kipsigis .

Leaders from the region among them Rift Valley Council of Elders chairman Gilbert Kabage and Ogiek Council of Elders chairman Joseph Towett said that, underneath the ethnic strife, was the enduring feeling of historical injustices, that mainly borders on land allocation.

Mr Kabage told the Nation that the government should form a multi-agency team to help in resolving the thorny land issues surrounding the Mau Forest complex.

Mr Towett echoed the sentiments, saying that the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as well as that of Lands should be involved in a joint team to seek a lasting solution to the Mau Forest land question.

“For how long should we kill each other because of unresolved land issues, we need an urgent solution to end the bloodshed in Nakuru and Narok counties. If possible, let those evicted from the forest be given alternative land,” he said.

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FIRST LINE OF DEFENDERS

When people living next to forests protect them

In the participatory forest management model, residents earn from farming around the forest, while protecting the forest's tree cover

By GILBERT KOECH - 09. September 2020

In Summary

• Kenya plans to increase forest cover from 7.2 per cent to 10 per cent by 2022

• This calls for partnership with communities living next to the natural resource

Dundori CFA takes part in a tree planting drive.

Dundori CFA takes part in a tree planting drive. Image: GILBERT KOECH

The first sign of trouble was poor harvest from his farm. Then there was no water in the river.

By the time Joseph Kamau knew something was wrong, authorities were already kicking out the illegal encroachers from Mau Forest Complex.

"People had encroached the forest from all sides. Before we knew it, rivers had dried up. Also, the fresh air we used to enjoy had all of a sudden started being polluted," Kamau, the chairperson of Masuri Cofa Community Forest Association, says.

Before his CFA was started in 2005, food production in the area was very poor, he says. "In one acre, one could harvest five bags, a far cry from the 45 bags supposed to be harvested.”

Kamau says 13,000 acres of forest in Mau Narok had been destroyed due to encroachment, a destruction that caused a major blow to livelihood.

He says the government kicked out encroachers from the forest in 2006-07, paving the way for the community forest association to be formed.

Kamau says massive benefits have arisen as a result of the CFA. As a chairperson, he now has tree nurseries and is selling tree seedlings to the Kenya Forest Service. Other CFAs also come to buy tree seedlings from him.

Besides seedlings to KFS, CFAs also help to plant them, opening the door to more earnings.

“I sold 10,000 seedlings last season, earning me Sh200,000,” Kamau says.

He is deriving his livelihood from tree seedlings such as cedar, Ndombea, Croton and Rosewood.

Blossoming indigenous trees in one of the nurseries managed by the CFA.

Blossoming indigenous trees in one of the nurseries managed by the CFA. Image: GILBERT KOECH

I sold 10,000 seedlings last season, earning me Sh200,000. I also have 10 beehives

Masuri Cofa CFA chair Joseph Kamau

MAU COMPLEX

The Mau Forest Complex, with an area of over 400,000ha, is the largest forest in the country.

It is a source of at least 12 major rivers, which flow into and sustain the fragile ecosystems in lakes Victoria, Nakuru, Bogoria, Naivasha, Natron, Elementaita and Turkana.

The sprawling forest complex straddles seven counties, which are home to nearly seven million people. These are Baringo, Bomet, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kericho, Nakuru, Nandi and Narok.

Over the years, a large chunk of the Mau Forest Complex was excised to pave way for human settlement.

Kamau says it is the responsibility of communities adjacent to the forest resources to guard them jealously.

“People should not destroy forests. They are our source of livelihoods, the fresh air we breathe and the clean water we drink,” he says.

Apart from raising tree seedlings, the CFA also engages in other activities, such as beekeeping, a venture that earns them more money. Kamau has 10 beehives, which supplement his tree nursery.

Kamau, whose CFA has 250 members, urges other communities surrounding the forest to form CFAs and help the government increase tree cover.

The government wants to increase the forest cover from 7.2 per cent to 10 per cent by 2022. Some 1.8 billion trees will be planted to this end.

Aware of the enormous task ahead, the state has been banking on various stakeholders, among them the CFAs, which are now emerging as some of the best players to bolster the government's efforts.

In Nakuru, for instance, the communities have organised themselves such that they can benefit from the immense forest resources available as provided for under the provisions of Forests Act. The Act envisages a situation whereby local communities draw tangible benefits from the adjacent forests.

The forest cover in Nakuru is 6.9 per cent. Another CFA in the county is Mugumo B, domiciled in Dundori forest and helping the government fulfil its mandate.

Alice Kariuki says her 17-member CFA is also immensely benefiting from their work as they use money from their nurseries to earn a living.

“Some of our children have gone up to university level,” she says, adding that some of her members have acquired plots and motorcycles, while others are now plot owners courtesy of raising tree nurseries.

“We at times get people to come and help in our nurseries as we have over 100,000 tree seedlings,” she says.

Their indigenous tree seedlings have been used to restore some of the degraded forest lands.

“When the Kenya Forest Service runs out of cypress and pine, they come and purchase them here,” she says.

Kariuki says some environmental organisations, such as the Green Belt movement, have also been buying tree seedlings from them.

A man helps KFS Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau to plant a tree

A man helps KFS Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau to plant a tree [Old photo, he was fired] Image: GILBERT KOECH

LIVELIHOOD SECURED

Dundori CFA vice chairman Nelson Ndung’u says they help protect the forest, while at the same time farming crops that supply various markets.

“Without our partnership with the KFS, this forest (Dundori) would not be the way it is,” he says.

They get food from the Plantation Establishment and Livelihood Improvement Scheme (Pelis), he says, a move that gives them an extra coin.

Pelis is a system whereby KFS allows forest-adjacent communities, through CFAs, the right to cultivate agricultural crops during the early stages of forest plantation establishment.

Cultivation is often allowed to continue for three to four years, until tree canopy closes, to improve the economic gains of participating farmers, while ensuring the success of planted trees.

Pelis has been used to establish forest plantations in Kenya since 2007.

Ndung’u says CFAs play a critical role in not only protecting the forest but also complementing the government’s efforts.

He says the Dundori forest has four protection zones: Dundori, Wanyororo, Kabatini and Murangine.

Ndung’u said before their involvement, the forest was in bad shape as it used to be encroached from all sides, increasing pressure on the vital resource.

Nakuru County Ecosystem Conservator Francis Misonge says the community should be onboard during tree-planting initiatives.

“The role of CFAs is the protection of forest resources as well as the actual planting,” he says.

Misonge says degraded areas will be rehabilitated through the planting of indigenous trees.

As a result of tree planting initiatives, rivers in Nakuru county have massive volumes of water.

Misonge says planting thousands of trees without involving the community amounts to nothing.

"They are the first line of defenders in all our forest resources," Misonge says.

Nakuru County Ecosystem Conservator Francis Misonge

Nakuru County Ecosystem Conservator Francis Misonge Image: GILBERT KOECH

KEEN TO PROTECT

Misonge says the community will jealously guard areas where they have put some efforts.

He cites instances where KFS bought seeds from CFAs before engaging them as casuals to plant trees.

“You use that as bait for them to protect planted trees,” he says, adding that KFS is always happy to engage other stakeholders in tree planting, even if it is in their farms.

“We are very happy when stakeholders, such as banks, environmental groups and organisations call us for tree planting in some of their huge tracks of land because it is helping us meet our target of increasing tree cover.”

The participatory forest management model in Kenya was adopted through the previous Forests Act, 2005, as a forest management tool.

KFS Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau says the aim was to engage forest-adjacent communities and other stakeholders in the co-management of forests in a way that communities benefit.

“The framework was later enhanced in the Forest Conservation and Management Act, 2016, to promote equitable community participation in forest management,” he said.

The communities form and register CFAs and develop a Participatory Forest Management Plan that is executed through the signing of a Forest Management Agreement between the Service and the CFA.

The engagement of CFAs has helped to increase the forest cover in some of the counties.

Forest laws also allow CFAs with various forest user rights, such as firewood and controlled grazing.

The CFAs are also involved in re-afforestation and rehabilitation programmes, which entail as the establishment of tree nurseries, planting and other silvicultural operations through contractual engagements.

Kamau says well-organised and structured CFAs have employed community scouts, who complement KFS rangers in protecting forest resources and in the process, they earn a living.

To date, there are 255 registered CFAs across the country, with 163 having approved Participatory Forest Management Plans and 102 signed Forest Management Agreements between KFS and CFA, he says.

Additionally, KFS has signed two concession agreements.

A waterfall in Nakuru county.

A waterfall in Nakuru county. Image: GILBERT KOECH

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N.B.: The following article is an exmple how politics tries to interfere into the internal affairs of the Ogiek people by launching misleading and paid for newspaper articles as an attempt to split and pitch them against each other.

Ogiek get new heads to push for land rights

By Caroline Chebet - 07. September 2020

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Newly elected Ogiek Council of Elders chairman John Sironga addresses the media in Nakuru on September 6, 2020. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The Ogiek community has declared their former council of elders redundant and selected an interim council to represent them implement a ruling by the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Three years ago the African court gave a landmark ruling, which allowed the community to return to their ancestral land in the Mau Forest after the State evicted them.

The selection of a new council chaired by John Sironga, the community says, will help trace Ogiek community members for just resettlement.

The community says the former council was sharply divided leading to slow implementation of the resettlement as ordered by the court.

Ogiek People Development Programme director Daniel Kobei believes the new crop is fit for the job.

“There had been a lot of conflicting statements from the outgoing council, but we want to set records straight with information coming from the new elders,” Kobei said.

He added that the new council is also tasked to initiate peace talks between the Ogiek and Kipsigis, who equally claim the Mau land.

Senator Victor Prengei blamed the previous council for breeding confusion that saw a number of youth from the indigenous community eliminated from the list of land beneficiaries.

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CS Tobiko now in trouble on eviction

By Julius Chepkwony - 07. September 2020

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Families evicted from Eastern Mau Forest have filed contempt proceedings in court against Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko (pictured) for disobeying court orders. 

In the same case, they have also sued Rift Regional Commissioner George Natembeya and the Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau.

The over 40,000 residents, through their leaders, accuse the three of failing to obey a court order issued by the Environment and Lands Court in Nakuru on July 20, this year.

The court temporarily stopped the eviction of residents of Nessuit, Marioshoni, Sururu, Likia, Teret and Sigotik settlement schemes.

In the case filed by Nakuru Member of County Assembly Samuel Tonui under a certificate of urgency, the residents stated Kenya Forest Service, the Attorney General and the government officials violated the order and began another exercise of purporting to re-survey the subject settlement schemes.

In the case, the evicted families claimed the officials purported to demarcate land claiming the boundary between settlement schemes and the forest had been interfered with despite the existence of a court order.

“The respondents (KFS, Tobiko, Natembeya and the AG) have disobeyed the orders of this honourable court by continuing to evict, displace and/or eject the residents of Nessuit, Marioshoni, Sururu, Likia and Sigotik settlement schemes from their lands,” read the suit in part.

The residents want the court to order the Chief Conservator of Forests, the Regional Commissioner, the CS and the AG committed to six months of civil jail for disobeying court orders.

Lawyer Kipkoech Ng’etich acting for the locals said the government officials should explain to the court why they should not be committed to civil jail for disobeying court orders.

“In alternative Tobiko, Natembeya, the AG and Chief Conservator Forests each be fined Sh100 million for disobeying court orders,” continued the suit.

The suit papers state that Tobiko, an advocate of the High Court, ought to have known better than court orders are binding.

Tobiko, it further states, has failed as a State officer and also as an officer of the court to advise his juniors on why obeying court orders is paramount in a country governed by the rule of law.

In July 2020, the locals moved to court seeking orders to stop the evictions. Environment and Lands Court Judge John Mutungi issued conservatory orders staying commencement and continuation of the forceful evictions on July 20.

The case was mentioned on July 30 for direction and the same orders extended up to September 22.

“That despite being served with the orders and despite lawyers representing the government being aware that the orders were extended, the officials have continued to interfere with the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of property by residents of Nessuit, Marioshoni, Sururu, Likia and Sigotik settlement schemes,” read the suit.

The locals claim no explanation has been given as to why the government has continued to evict them from the area and want the court to intervene and save them from their plight.

Justice Millicent Odeny of Eldoret Environment and Lands Court last week certified the matter as urgent and ordered that it be mentioned on September 22 for direction.

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Indigenous Ogiek removed from Mau forest home

Some of the displaced have sought shelter in schools.

By  - 0

A community of forest dwellers in Kenya is struggling to survive after being evicted from its ancestral land.

The Ogiek people say they were given the legal right to live in the forest in court.

But the government says they are destroying parts of a fragile ecosystem.

Al Jazeera's Catherine Soi reports from the Mau Forest in the Rift Valley.

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Let's counter forces of aggression and embrace peace - Ruto

Deputy President called on leaders to master the art of championing for inclusion and cohesion.

By TRACY MUTINDA - 24. August 2020

In Summary

• He spoke during a meeting with Ogiek leaders from Mariashoni in Molo at his Karen office.

• The meeting was led by Senator Victor Prengei and MCAs Busienei Beuton and Maurine Lesingo of Nakuru County. 

Deputy President William Ruto during a meeting with Ogiek leaders from Mariashoni in Molo led by Senator Victor Prengei and MCAs Busienei Beuton and Maurine Lesingo of Nakuru County.

Deputy President William Ruto during a meeting with Ogiek leaders from Mariashoni in Molo led by Senator Victor Prengei and MCAs Busienei Beuton and Maurine Lesingo of Nakuru County. Image: COURTESY

Deputy President William Ruto has called on leaders to master the art of championing for inclusion and cohesion in the society.

He said as leaders, they have a central role to play in our society, adding that leaders should desire to counter the forces of aggression and commit to peace building.

"As leaders, we have a central role to play in championing for inclusion and cohesion in our society. We must, therefore, desire to counter the forces of aggression and commit to building peace through the strengthening of our social fabric for sustainable development," he said.

He spoke during a meeting with Ogiek leaders from Mariashoni in Molo at his Karen office.

The meeting was led by Senator Victor Prengei and MCAs Busienei Beuton and Maurine Lesingo of Nakuru County.

"We discussed development matters and encouraged them to participate in government-led initiative to restore peace in the area," the DP said.

Ruto last year said that winning the presidency is secondary to him as compared to peace in the country.

The DP said he should not be the reason why Kenya should experience a blood bath after the election.

The DP was speaking at his Sugoi home in Uasin Gishu where he held a meeting with a delegation from the Mt Kenya region.

"I don’t want Kenyans to fight because of me. I don’t want this country to take the route where people lose lives because of any politician. That is how serious I am and I want to promise you, kupata kiti, kukosa kiti, ifanyike ile itafanyika we want peace in this nation," he said.

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Two injured in fresh Njoro ethnic clashes

By Kennedy Gachuhi- 19. August 2020

At least two people have been injured with arrows in fresh ethnic flare-ups within Neissuit, Njoro.

Nakuru County Commissioner Erastus Mbui confirmed the incidents saying that the two were injured in Sigaon and Tiritagoi areas.

"We have deployed police officers to stop the clashes between two communities in the area. The two injured persons have been taken to different hospitals in the sub-county," said Mbui.

The residents, however, claim that one person was killed near Ogiek Secondary School and several houses torched in Sigaon, Tritagoi and Kware areas.

Political leaders from the area had on Tuesday protested against the multi-agency team currently demarcating the Eastern Mau Forest cutline which they accused of sidelining them.

A major security meeting was held three weeks ago at Neissuit Trading Centre following similar clashes that had left five people dead and over 80 others injured.

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Kenya’s Ogiek Community fighting Evictions from their Lands

BY OAKLAND INSTITUTE - 12. August 2020

[Kenya’s Ogiek Community] Oakland Institute: "The Ogiek issue was elevated to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2009. This was done soon after the government issued eviction notices to around 35,000 Ogiek." Photo: YouTube

Members of the Ogiek community have been under attack by interests intent on stealing their ancestral lands.

On June 27, 2020, a heavy contingent of security officers from the Kenya Forestry Service (KFS) started an operation to flash out grazers at the Logoman Forest station, one of the blocks in the Eastern section of the Mau Forest Complex in Kenya.

One of the major water catchment areas of the country, the Mau Forest Complex is primarily the ancestral home of the marginalized, Indigenous hunter-gatherer Ogiek community. Over the past decade, other communities have invaded the ancestral lands of the Ogiek—allegedly settling there through fraudulent methods. This has intermittently led to resource conflicts on ethnic lines. Using the cover of settling these conflicts, the Kenya Forest Service has been carrying out brutal evictions, deeming the Ogiek as encroachers on their own land.

After over a decade of seeking justice in Kenyan courts, the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program elevated the issue to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2009. This was done soon after the government issued eviction notices to around 35,000 Ogiek, plus other settlers. The case was then referred to the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights in Arusha, Tanzania on the basis that it evinces serious and mass human rights violations.

The Kenyan government was found to be in severe violation of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and a historic judgment was issued in the community’s favor in 2017. The judgment was also significant as it recognized the indispensable role Indigenous communities play as the guardians of local ecosystems. The African Court of Human and Peoples Rights stressed the importance of recognizing the community’s land rights as well as cultural rights, both deeply imbricated in the matrix of the forest’s ecosystem.

It is also significant that the verdict, unlike the Kenyan government, recognized the Ogiek's Indigenous status. The 2017 ruling also called for the Ogiek’s right to reparations from the Kenyan government for the suffering they have endured through forcible evictions. While the government of Kenya had promised to abide by the ruling, three years since the landmark judgment, the implementation process is barely existent.

In November 2017, the Kenyan government gazetted a Task Force to facilitate the implementation. Subsequently, more such task forces have been allotted to implement the Arusha judgment and to supposedly ensure participatory models of community—led forest conservation. However, the task forces are feeble and lack any representation(link is external) from the Ogiek community. They have a reputation for neglecting to include the local communities, including in the mandated free and fair consultation processes. The Task Force’s neglected duties also include (link is external)helping determine the status of the land, making recommendations for reparations for the Ogiek and raising public awareness about Indigenous rights.

The recent evictions in the Mau Forest Complex are in clear violation of this ruling, and against the moratorium placed on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the harsh cold and wet weather conditions of July made things extremely bleak for the 600 Ogiek people rendered homeless.

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Multi-agency team to re-mark Mau borders

By Caroline Chebet - 08. August 2020

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Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya, Lands PS Nicholas Muraguri and his Environment and Forestry counterpart Chris Kiptoo at Neissuit Primary School in Njoro constituency during a meeting with elders from Kipsigis, Tugen and Ogiek communities yesterday. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A multi-agency team has been formed to resolve the Eastern Mau land dispute that has led to evictions and ethnic clashes.

The team, which commenced its work yesterday after touring affected areas of Marioshioni and Nessuit in Eastern Mau, is expected to demarcate clear boundaries between settlement schemes and forest land.

The team is drawn from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Ministry of Lands.

Long-standing issues

Environment and Forestry Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo said the initiative is geared towards resolving long-standing issues of Mau forest land and restoring degraded forest lands by 2022.

Lands PS Nicholas Muraguri said the team has already met local leaders and communities.

He said the team will be demarcating the boundaries based on 1994 maps to avoid clashing of foresters and communities.

“Clear demarcation will also pave way for resolving the caveat issue in the Mau where those residing outside forest land will acquire titles,” he said.

He said the multi-agency team will take a month to complete the demarcation process.

“Other pronouncements factoring in Ogiek in terms of implementation of the African Court ruling will be made after demarcation of boundaries,” Dr Muraguri added.

He said the government is determined to stop the conflicts. In June, Kenya Forest Service (KFS) started evictions from the 57,000-hectare Eastern Mau which, according to Ecosystem Conservator Frank Misonge, half of it has been encroached on.

Nessuit Member of County Assembly, who is also deputy speaker at the Nakuru County Assembly, Kipkemoi Tonui, had sued KFS, Ministry of Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko and Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya over the Mau evictions.

Mr Tonui, through lawyers Kipkoech Ng’etich and Renny Langat, said Tobiko and Natembeya are coordinating an operation to disturb residents of Nessuit, Marioshoni, Sururu, Lilia, Terit and Sigotik settlement schemes having commenced evictions. 

Speaking during the stakeholder meeting at Nessuit with the multi-agency team, Tonui said he is ready to withdraw the case if a clear roadmap in demarcating forest boundaries is followed.

SEE ALSO:

Why region near Mau is beset by perennial land rows, flare-ups

Deliberate planning should save our water towers, livelihoods

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Threats, politics and evictions: Who will save East Africa’s most important forest?

By Caroline Chebet - 07. August 2020

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Kenya Forest Service officers (KFS) during an operation to flush out illegal settlers at Marioshoni Forest in the Mau Forest Complex on June 3, 2020. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

When the history of conservation in the country is finally written, Mau forest will occupy several chapters.

The forest has over the years become synonymous with the battle to protect the country’s water towers, punctuated by tales of evictions and affected families crying out in cold squatter camps.

The 455,000-hectare water tower comprises 22 blocks that sustain the flow of water to documented 12 rivers and lakes across the region, with most of the evictions taking place in Maasai Mau and Mau Eastern blocks.

Most encroached

These are the most encroached areas in one of the country’s most treasured World Heritage Sites.

While the forest complex is the source of 60 per cent of Lake Victoria, which is shared between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the forest is also key in supporting farming activities and electricity production.

The Mara-Serengeti ecosystem shared by both Kenya and Tanzania is also dependent on the forest complex to sustain the flow of the Mara River that supports one of the world’s wonders.

Tanzania’s Lake Natron, a key breeding ground for migratory birds and a home to millions of flamingos is also dependent on the forest, just as Kenya’s Lake Nakuru and Elementaita.

Greenlife Nature and Ecosystem Network Director Richard Keter said Mau forest plays a critical role in the flow of many rivers in the region.

“Mau forest Complex is not only a resource to Kenya, East Africa entirely depends on it to sustain the flow of its rivers. It is a key resource that should be protected by all means,” Keter said.

As recognition of its status, the forest complex was admitted to the Queen’s Common Wealth Canopy, a status expected to raise global awareness and boost conservation as the largest indigenous Mountain Forest in East Africa.

Despite its status, restoration efforts have also been hampered by politics and numerous court cases seeking to stop the eviction of people living in the forest.

These efforts have however helped maintain the spotlight on the significance of the forest and helped in saving huge tracts previously occupied by squatters.   

Between 2008 and 2010, for example, the then Prime Minister Raila Odinga initiated a drive to reclaim the Mau Complex. The programme was withdrawn after it was politicised.

About two million trees were planted in some sections of the complex.

In 2009, more than 1,000 settlers in South West Mau were also kicked out. Rhino Ark has since fenced some section of South West and Eburu forest within Mau to avoid encroachment.

In November 2019, Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko said over 35,000 hectares had been reclaimed in the Maasai Mau. The restoration was done in phases. Phase One that ended in 2018 recovered more than 11,000 hectares and the 2019 Phase Two reclaimed more than 22,000 hectares.

Evictions

In the same year, more than 10,000 families were evicted from the forest.

“The efforts to restore Mau over the years have been successful. Replanting has been key,” Dr Isaac Kalua, former Kenya Water Tower Agency chairperson said.

According to Mau Ecosystem conservator Frank Misonge, 238.1 hectares has been rehabilitated with 225,780 seedlings. However 4,432.9 ha are yet to be planted, of which 2,000 will be left for regeneration.

The block comprises Logoman, Sururu, Likia, Kiptunga, Marioshioni, Nessuit and Bararget forests.

The current evictions in Eastern Mau, Misonge said, yielded additional 6,000 hectares.

“We now have additional 6,000 hectares recovered through evictions that require urgent planting as all of it is degraded,” Mr Misonge said.

And while there are still swathes of bare land yet to be replanted, Njoro MP Charity Kathambi said of the more than six million acres of forest land across the country, five per cent translating to 300,000 acres have encroached in 109 forests across the country.

“The current forest cover is 6.9 per cent and most of the reclaimed areas of the forests are still bare, meaning a lot has to be done on replanting,” said the MP, who is also a member of the National Assembly’s Environment Committee.

Less trees, more crops

The East Mau Water Tower Policy brief indicates that forestland decreased by 40 per cent from 54,804 hectares in 1990 to 33,064 hectares in 2016 while cropland increased by 25 per cent from 1106 to 14,849 hectares over the same period.

In 2001, 35,301 hectares of forestland in the water tower was excised for human settlement in Elburgon, Kuresoi, Keringet, Kiptagich, Njoro and Olposimoru. The change in land cover increased cropland which had adverse effects on the water generating ability of the water tower.

“By 2009, more than 40 water sources had dried up and water flow in Sondu River became irregular, making it impossible for Sondu-Miriu hydropower plant to run in the dry season,” the policy brief stated.

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Violent Inter-ethnic Clashes Erupt at Njoro, Nakuru County, Scores of Shops and Houses Burnt Down!

By DPK - 31. July 2020

Njoro inter-tribal violence

Njoro inter-ethnicl violence

Inter-ethnic violence has erupted at Njoro, Nakuru County. Several shops and houses have been burnt down. The conflict is between the Ogiek and the Kipsigis.

Nakuru County governor Lee Kinyajui has imposed a 6pm-6am mandatory curfew within the confines of Nakuru County borders. The curfew is expect to last for the entire week and during this time, nobody will be allowed to be in possession of any weapons including bows and arrows. The governor said this after visiting 13 victims who have been hospitalized at Nakuru Level 5 hospital after sustaining injuries in the skirmishes.

The conflict started on Tuesday due to accusations of livestock theft between the Ogiek people and the Kipsigis. Both groups deny each other’s accusations. During the Tuesday attack, one man was killed on the spot while another man with an arrow still lodged on his head died while being transported to hospital by police.

Governor Kinjanjui extended the curfew to cover not only Njoro area but other surrounding regions including Elburgon and Mau Submit regions.

Rift Valley Regional Coordinator, George Natembeya said a group of police officers has been deployed in the area to enforce the curfew. Anyone found in violation of the curfew directive will be arrested promptly and prosecuted in court.

Nakuru County Governor, Lee Kinyanjui. He issued a dusk to dawn curfew in areas of Nakuru County affected by inter-tribal violence
Nakuru County Governor, Lee Kinyanjui. He issued a dusk to dawn curfew in areas of Nakuru County affected by inter-ethnic violence

There has been reports that the culprits responsible for the violence in Njoro are goons who do not live in the area, but have been hired by local politicians to cause mayhem and havoc in the area in order to frame it on their political opponents.

So far, 3 people have been killed while 13 people have been injured. Property damage is thought to be worth millions of shillings as a full row of shops were torched after being stripped of valuables through looting.

The violence in Njoro follows pockets of ethnic skirmishes in Oleposumoru and Marioshoni regions in neighboring Narok county about a week ago. Unlike the Njoro conflict whose trigger causes are unclear, the violence in Narok erupted after two boys were killed while grazing their cattle. In this conflict, 5 people were killed while 10 people were hospitalized at Olenguruone Sub-County Hospital.

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Indigenous Kenyans are putting their trust in the government — even as they’re evicted

Agnes Tapkili, left, and Raeli Nalotwesha try to warm themselves near a small fire this week at the Vision Academy in Nessuit, where they are taking shelter after being evicted by the Kenyan government.

By Max Bearak - 25. July 2020

MAU FOREST, Kenya — The two women were born in the forest more than 70 years ago, when it covered much of Kenya’s highlands.

Over the years, successive waves of people with their axes and plows came, from British colonists to other Kenyans in search of fertile land, and the expanse of green shrank to just a few small patches of untouched woodland: the Mau Forest. Now tens of millions rely on the water that flows from its springs and live in houses built out of its wood.

The women’s people, the Ogiek, claim to be the indigenous inhabitants of the Mau, and with the felling of the trees came the felling of much of their way of life: hunting tree hyraxes and antelope for meat and fur, and harvesting honey and medicinal herbs. A landmark 2017 ruling by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights affirmed the Ogiek’s right to live in the forest.

Kenya’s government, which owns the forest, has barely acknowledged the ruling. In late June, it began evicting hundreds of Ogiek families from the Mau in the name of conservation. Ogiek leaders say the government has promised to allow them back into the Mau when non-indigenous settlers in the forest have been cleared out. But powerful Kenyan officials said in interviews that they have no intention of permitting the Ogiek to return.

Kenya’s census is counting people never counted before

“By evicting us, we hope that our land will become ours again,” said Raeli Nalotwesha, one of the two women.

She and Agnes Tapkili were rendered homeless this month, in the middle of the cold and rainy season and as a pandemic that seems to target the elderly spreads. They were sheltering in a shuttered school. It was the fourth time in their lives they’d been evicted.

Young Ogiek pastoralists wait for their sheep to graze in Kiptunga Forest Station on July 22.

Since 2018, over 50,000 people — mostly non-Ogiek settlers — have been evicted, often violently, from the Mau, Human Rights Watch says.

Amid cries from rights groups that the Ogiek are being abused, the community’s leaders and many of its 30,000 to 50,000 members are putting faith in a long-shot plan they believe the government is enacting.

“Over 300 families have been evicted, even from deep into the forest since June,” said Daniel Kobei, an Ogiek activist and the tribe’s most prominent public figure. “In most cases, we are complying voluntarily. We want the evictions completed and, after, we want implementation of court rulings.”

The gambit relies on the Kenyan government’s respect for the 2017 ruling by the Tanzania-based court, which doesn’t have enforceable jurisdiction in Kenya. It’s an even riskier strategy considering the government has evicted thousands of poor people from their homes during the coronaviruspandemic despite a self-imposed moratorium on doing so.

Although Kobei said he has regular and constructive discussions with government officials that lead him to believe in their intention to respect the ruling, officials painted a different picture in interviews with The Washington Post.

“You tell me that people can survive on honey and herbs. What a nonsense story. Nobody dwells inside a forest,” said George Natembeya, an Interior Ministry official in charge of security for a large part of Kenya that includes the Mau. “There is no such thing as a forest-dwelling person — these are misnomers. The forest should not have people residing there. With the evictions, what we are stopping is destruction, by Ogieks, and by other Kenyans, and we make no distinction.”

Meanwhile, some Ogiek families have razed their houses in hopes they will be resettled in the forest. Daniel and Lilian Tuimising now sleep in a cramped shack with their seven children after Daniel took a hammer and posthole digger to his house and shop, reducing it to rubble.

“Even if we suffer now, it is good for the Mau,” he said. “We want to show that we agree with forest protection so they will allow us back.”

Lilian Tuimising, left, and her daughters observe what remains of their home.

Daniel Tuimising picks up belongings and materials in his demolished house.

His optimism was echoed by others who yearn for non-Ogiek settlers to be banished from the Mau and were willing to pay what they hope is the temporary price of their homes for it. “We support it 100 percent. We have no choice but to trust,” said Dominic Letuya, 23. 

But the Kenya Forest Service doesn’t see the Ogiek as the forest’s protectors. Officials see that as their own role, and one they can carry out only if the forest is void of people.

“It’s an issue of people understanding that they are in the wrong place and upgrading themselves, moving to another, safer place so they do not have to spend my time fighting with the owner of the forest,” said George Njenga, the service’s top official in the Mau.

The Ogiek and the Kenya Forest Service say they are both trying to return the Mau to its natural state, but to many Ogiek, that includes their living there again, using the forest’s bounty responsibly.

“We want this land to be how nature created it, with services that allow us to live,” said Joseph Kipkemoi Lesingo, 55, adept in hunting, foraging and beekeeping. “We need to start from scratch again.”

On a recent day, Lesingo went into the forest with his two hunting dogs to survey beehives he’d made out of hollow logs from trees of the Dombeya genus. He’d fastened the hives into the canopies of the same trees, which he says yield the sweetest honey.

Ogiek hunter Joseph Kipkemoi Lesingo surveys a tree holding a beehive before collecting honey on a cold day this week.

Lesingo inspects a piece of honeycomb.

He vigorously rubbed two specially carved pieces of wood together — without any flint — to create an ember, which he placed into a ball of moist moss, creating a smoker. He placed it in a satchel made of hyrax hide, warding away the bees while he gathered golden hunks of honeycomb so flavorful they left a burn in the throat like whiskey.

“That stuff you get in the city — it’s all mixed with sugar,” he said. If a newly pregnant woman eats a full honeycomb in April, it is potent enough to give her twins, according to Ogiek legend. “This is the strong stuff.”

After holding on to his culture despite the government appropriating the forest for its own purposes and encroaching farmers and herders using it for theirs, Lesingo is happy to coexist with the newcomers as long as they leave the Ogiek to restore not just their homes but their traditions and the forest itself — as they believe is their right.

“If — and it is all about if,” said Lesingo. “If they listen to us.”

 

Rael Ombuor contributed to this report.

Max Bearak is The Washington Post's Nairobi bureau chief. Previously, he reported from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Somalia and Washington, D.C., for The Post, following stints in Delhi and Mumbai reporting for the New York Times and others. Follow

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Kenya’s forest communities face eviction from ancestral lands – even during pandemic

By Nita Bhalla - TRF - 25. July 2020

NAIROBI: Forest-dwelling communities in Kenya are being forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands, as temperatures plummet and coronavirus cases soar, land rights campaigners said on Thursday.

The Community Land Action Now (CLAN), a network of more than 130 indigenous community groups, said the evictions by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) had left hundreds of families in the Rift Valley region homeless and struggling to survive.

About 300 families from the Ogiek community who inhabit the Mau Forest, and 28 families from the Sengwer people in Embobut Forest had seen their homes demolished or burnt down, and their farms destroyed by forest guards, they said.

“Communities living in forests are finding it quite difficult because of these evictions. There should be a stoppage to these evictions,” said Peter Kitelo, who chairs the CLAN network, during a virtual press conference.

Officials from KFS were not immediately available for comment but the government has previously cited protection and conservation of the forests as the reason for the evictions.

Millions of people from Kenya’s indigenous and other marginalized groups face stiff challenges in exercising their land rights as many do not have title deeds, despite having inhabited the forests for centuries, say campaigners.

The Mau forest is home to about 50,000 Ogiek people who depend on it for their traditional livelihoods, including hunting and foraging.

Yet since colonial times, they have faced repeated evictions as their land is allocated to other communities for political reasons and used for commercial purposes, including logging.

The African Court on Human and People’s Rights recognised their right over their ancestral home in a landmark ruling three years ago, but the Kenyan government has failed to implement the decision.

It previously said the removal of the Ogiek people was necessary to protect the Mau Forest, known as the east African nation’s “water tower” because it channels rainwater into a dozen major rivers and lakes.

While in western Kenya, the Sengwer hunter-gatherers have fought for more than five decades for the right to live in the Embobut forest in the Cherengany Hills from where they were first evicted by British colonialists. They have repeatedly faced harassment and eviction. The latest threat was from a European Union-funded water conservation project.

“These evictions have really hit us because it’s evictions during COVID times. It’s evictions when kids are not at school and during the very coldest season of the year,” said Milka Chepkorir, a representative from the Sengwer community.

Kenya has 15,601 confirmed cases of the disease and 263 deaths, according to the ministry of health.

Representatives from the Ogiek and Sengwer groups called on the government to recognise their rights as shareholders of the forests, adding that local communities were the best protectors and conservers of the environment.

“We find ourselves treated like less than citizens, being evicted every now and then,” said Daniel Kobei, executive director of the Ogiek People’s Development Program.

“People have forgotten the fact that the Ogiek people are the owners of the forest. We are good at protecting the forests.”

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KFS GOES AGAINST CS ENVIRONMENT DIRECTIVES

24. July 2020

However, at another venue the CS banned the growing of exotic trees in forest plantations, which has been a major source of revenue for the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) for decades, and instead ordered the growing of indigenous trees.

“The KFS board should not put roadblocks on this move. They just have to comply because we want the water levels back in the rivers,” he said.

“The existing exotic trees should be cut when they mature and replaced with indigenous ones.”

Tobiko said the forest had acres of bamboo, but they had been destroyed over the years.

He also banned grazing of livestock in the proposed water tower, saying the animals will destroy seedlings.

While from a nature protection point of view these moves are welcomed, the CS has to understand and respect the rights of the Indigenous people, like the Ogiek, who are and were the stewards of the whole Mau Forest complex since times immemorial and ensured that the forests were intact, that then were robbed first by the colonial government and subsequently by KFS. The Cabinet Secretary also would be ill-advised to just follow the ideas of UN Agenda 21 by trying to alienate the Indigenous people from their forest.

KFS has been known since decades to be one of the most corrupt governmental bodies, robbing the forests in cohorts with wealthy timber companies and hundreds of cases are still pending

But still the KFS continues with its malpractices and now even plays into politics while going agains directives by clearing Indigenous forests, planting exotic trees and trying to hand out cleaed forest land to farmers.

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Kenya's forest communities face eviction from ancestral lands - even during pandemic

By REUTERS | July 24th 2020

Forest-dwelling communities in Kenya are being forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands, as temperatures plummet and coronavirus cases soar, land rights campaigners said on Thursday.

The Community Land Action Now (CLAN), a network of more than 130 indigenous community groups, said the evictions by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) had left hundreds of families in the Rift Valley region homeless and struggling to survive.

About 300 families from the Ogiek community who inhabit the Mau Forest, and 28 families from the Sengwer people in Embobut Forest had seen their homes demolished or burnt down, and their farms destroyed by forest guards, they said.

“Communities living in forests are finding it quite difficult because of these evictions. There should be a stoppage to these evictions,” said Peter Kitelo, who chairs the CLAN network, during a virtual press conference.

Officials from KFS were not immediately available for comment but the government has previously cited protection and conservation of the forests as the reason for the evictions.

Millions of people from Kenya’s indigenous and other marginalized groups face stiff challenges in exercising their land rights as many do not have title deeds, despite having inhabited the forests for centuries, say campaigners.

The Mau forest is home to about 50,000 Ogiek people who depend on it for their traditional livelihoods, including hunting and foraging.

Yet since colonial times, they have faced repeated evictions as their land is allocated to other communities for political reasons and used for commercial purposes, including logging.

The African Court on Human and People’s Rights recognised their right over their ancestral home in a landmark ruling three years ago, but the Kenyan government has failed to implement the decision.

It previously said the removal of the Ogiek people was necessary to protect the Mau Forest, known as the east African nation’s “water tower” because it channels rainwater into a dozen major rivers and lakes.

While in western Kenya, the Sengwer hunter-gatherers have fought for more than five decades for the right to live in the Embobut forest in the Cherengany Hills from where they were first evicted by British colonialists.

They have repeatedly faced harassment and eviction. The latest threat was from a European Union-funded water conservation project.

“These evictions have really hit us because it’s evictions during COVID times. It’s evictions when kids are not at school and during the very coldest season of the year,” said Milka Chepkorir, a representative from the Sengwer community.

Kenya has 15,601 confirmed cases of the disease and 263 deaths, according to the ministry of health.

Representatives from the Ogiek and Sengwer groups called on the government to recognise their rights as shareholders of the forests, adding that local communities were the best protectors and conservers of the environment.

 “We find ourselves treated like less than citizens, being evicted every now and then,” said Daniel Kobei, executive director of the Ogiek People’s Development Program.

“People have forgotten the fact that the Ogiek people are the owners of the forest. We are good at protecting the forests.”  

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Slow Food supports evicted Ogiek Community with a fundraising campaign. Let’s make a difference together!

We received very disturbing news from our network in Kenya: members of the Ogiek indigenous community and Slow Food activists are being illegally and forcibly evicted from their ancestral land, the Mau Forest.

Slow Food has launched today a fundraising campaign to help support the Ogiek families who lost everything. If you wish to donate, you can do it here

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

The Kenyan Forest Service has destroyed the homes of several Ogiek families, rendering them homeless in the midst of the rainy season with nowhere to shelter from the rain and cold, vulnerable to contagion, and unable to access their food sources and livelihood. As of July 13, the official number of displaced Ogiek families amounted to 100 (approximately 600 people) but numbers could be much bigger.

The East Mau Forest has been our home since time immemorial. Today I am a sad Ogiek youth, a young parent, a mother of two, seeing my people being evicted from our home, the foundation of our culture, traditions, and livelihoods. It has been so painful to see our homes reduced to ashes. We are now spending nights in the cold, some sheltered in schools where following the WHO guidelines on Covid-19 prevention is a nightmare. We are helpless and feel alone,” said Clare Rono, member of the Ogiek Community and Slow Food activist.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE OGIEK INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY

As Slow Food has been advocating for years, indigenous peoples are vital to the protection of biodiversity. The Ogiek are one of Kenya’s oldest tribes and have survived long years of persecution as their ancestral land, the forest, has been exploited for over a century to make wood or tea plantations, losing 60% of their tree cover. In 2017, the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights officially established their full right to inhabit the Mau forest as a fundamental element for their survival and for the exercise of their culture, customs, traditions, religion, and the well-being of their community.

The Ogiek Community has suffered for a long time, and this dates back to the colonial era. They have continued to be evicted from their ancestral land in total disregard of their welfare, rights, and the 2017 African Court on human and peoples rights judgment that gave them the right to live in Mau Forest. As Slow Food Kenya, we condemn the recent evictions, they have caused a lot of suffering and disruptions to the community that has played a significant role in protecting the forest while supporting their livelihood. As Slow Food Kenya, we have been working with the Ogiek Community to promote their traditional honey and protect the Mau ecosystem that gives it its unique characteristic,” says John Kariuki, Slow Food International Councillor for East Africa. The Ogiek’s way of life is based on the natural resources provided by the forest; they are hunter-gatherers whose main activity is apiculture. Indeed, the Ogiek Honey Slow Food Presidium was launched in 2015 to help protect the Mau Forest ecosystem and promote the value of the Ogiek people’s ancestral culture through honey, as a valuable product that has carried the community through droughts and famines. 

“It’s so sad to our community, as we know it’s our homeland, some of our families were evicted despite fighting for our rights through the court of law. The Ogiek community shall have back their motherland as ruled by the court justices” said Martin Lele, Slow Food Ogiek Honey Presidium Coordinator.

The evictions will have negative social, economic, and cultural consequences affecting the Ogiek’s livelihood, local biodiversity, and food security. This time of year is especially important for honey production because the small black African honey bees kept by the Ogiek prefer the nectar produced by the Dombeya goetzeni plant’s flowers, which gives the honey collected in August its characteristic whitish-grey color and unique flavor.

The Kenyan Government claims these evictions are intended to remove Ogiek who they considered to be living outside of the territory allocated to them, even after they won a constitutional case against the Kenyan Government 2017, after a 20-year fight, when the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights found the Kenyan Government had violated the rights of the Ogiek community to their ancestral land. However, the Government has never clarified nor communicated where the official border of the community’s territory lies. 

SLOW FOOD SUPPORT AND HOW YOU CAN HELP

Slow Food condemns this violation against the rights of the Ogiek community. This is why, on July 20, Slow Food, Slow Food Kenya and Slow Food Youth Network, together with other organizations of the civil society, sent out a statement letter to Mr. Keriako Tobiko (Cabinet Secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Environment & Forestry) to immediately stop the ongoing forced evictions of the Ogiek community in Kenya. And today, July 24, Slow Food has launched a fundraising campaign to alleviate the difficulties of those in greatest need at this time. Thanks to your contributions, Slow Food Kenya will also deliver food bought from local producers of the Slow Food network, and personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to face the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Help us!

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Kenya’s forest communities face eviction from ancestral lands – even during pandemic

By Nyawira Mwangi - 24. July 2020

Ogiek people by a tree stump in the Mau forest. Often polical settlements of other people in the Mau Forest and their subsequent forest destruction for farming have caused havoc.  Photograph: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

Forest-dwelling communities in Kenya are being forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands, as temperatures plummet and coronavirus cases soar, land rights campaigners said on Thursday.

The Community Land Action Now (CLAN), a network of more than 130 indigenous community groups, said the evictions by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) had left hundreds of families in the Rift Valley region homeless and struggling to survive.

About 300 families from the Ogiek community who inhabit the Mau Forest, and 28 families from the Sengwer people in Embobut Forest had seen their homes demolished or burnt down, and their farms destroyed by forest guards, they said.

“Communities living in forests are finding it quite difficult because of these evictions. There should be a stoppage to these evictions,” said Peter Kitelo, who chairs the CLAN network, during a virtual press conference.

Officials from KFS were not immediately available for comment but the government has previously cited protection and conservation of the forests as the reason for the evictions.

Millions of people from Kenya’s indigenous and other marginalized groups face stiff challenges in exercising their land rights as many do not have title deeds, despite having inhabited the forests for centuries, say campaigners.

The Mau forest is home to about 50,000 Ogiek people who depend on it for their traditional livelihoods, including hunting and foraging.

Yet since colonial times, they have faced repeated evictions as their land is allocated to other communities for political reasons and used for commercial purposes, including logging.

The African Court on Human and People’s Rights recognised their right over their ancestral home in a landmark ruling three years ago, but the Kenyan government has failed to implement the decision.

It previously said the removal of the Ogiek people was necessary to protect the Mau Forest, known as the east African nation’s “water tower” because it channels rainwater into a dozen major rivers and lakes.

While in western Kenya, the Sengwer hunter-gatherers have fought for more than five decades for the right to live in the Embobut forest in the Cherengany Hills from where they were first evicted by British colonialists. They have repeatedly faced harassment and eviction. The latest threat was from a now halted European Union-funded water conservation project.

“These evictions have really hit us because it’s evictions during COVID times. It’s evictions when kids are not at school and during the very coldest season of the year,” said Milka Chepkorir, a representative from the Sengwer community.

Kenya has 15,601 confirmed cases of the disease and 263 deaths, according to the ministry of health.

Representatives from the Ogiek and Sengwer groups called on the government to recognise their rights as shareholders of the forests, adding that local communities were the best protectors and conservers of the environment.

“We find ourselves treated like less than citizens, being evicted every now and then,” said Daniel Kobei, executive director of the Ogiek People’s Development Program.

“People have forgotten the fact that the Ogiek people are the owners of the forest. We are good at protecting the forests.”

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Draw clear borderline for Mau, says Ogiek

By Caroline Chebet - 22. July 2020

Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko

Leaders and the Ogiek community living in Eastern Mau have called on the government to spell out clear boundaries to guide on conservation and resettlement.

The community members, who had camped in Marioshioni centre over the weekend waiting for Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko (pictured), said the only way to solve the Mau issue was clear boundaries. 

Hundreds of families evicted from Eastern Mau Forest were over the weekend left dejected after Tobiko failed to show up for a scheduled visit.

“We wanted the issue to be resolved once and for all. It is a painful affair that we are victims of eviction. We are hopeful that since we are out of our homes, the government will come up with a solution,” Sarah Osasi, one of the residents, said.

She said forest encroachment was a major concern, but they need to resettle the community to pave way for conservation.

“People are out of the forest. The government should clear the issue so nobody goes back there. We are ready for the implementation of court order,” Osasi added.

Ogiek council of elders chairman Joseph Towett said 700 families have been rendered homeless from the evictions and the government needs to implement the 2014 court ruling and lift the caveat on Mau land.

Njoro Member of Parliament Charity Kathambi said government should state clear boundaries of all forests across the country and stop nullifying title deeds that were previously validated. She said unclear boundaries has caused a lot of confusion leading to evictions in Mau.

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READ MORE ABOUT OGIEK IN THE NEWS

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Tobiko skips tour of Mariashoni in Eastern Mau Forest

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Ogiek Council of Elders chairperson Joseph Kimaiyo Towett (right) addressing members of the community at Mariashoni, Molo, Nakuru County on July 18, 2020. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Summary

  • The community first moved to court in 1997 and obtained an order restricting the government against settling people in the Eastern Mau Complex.
  • The matter, which dragged in court for 17 years, was determined in 2014.

By FRANCIS MUREITHI - 19. July 2020

Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko much publicised tour of the Eastern Mau Forest Complex in Mariashoni, Molo, Nakuru County on Saturday was cancelled in the last minute.

Hundreds of members of Ogiek community, who have been evicted from the water tower converged at Mariashoni trading centre as early as 7am Saturday.  

Area chief, and police officers patrolled the trading centre and monitored the movement of residents. However, by 1pm, the CS had not arrived.

A source told the Nation that Mr Tobiko arrived in Nakuru town and held a closed door meeting with the Regional Commissioner George Natembeya and top Kenya Forest Service (KFS).

It was not immediately established why he skipped the tour of the water tower. Efforts to reach the Cabinet secretary were futile as he did not pick our calls.

Ogiek elders had disputed new cutlines in the water tower. On Thursday, Molo Deputy Commissioner David Wanyonyi toured the area and identified the cutlines in the presence of some elders.

However, the exercise to identify the boundaries was criticised by the elders who described it as a violation of a court order. The residents were later addressed by Ogiek Council of Elders Chairperson Joseph Kimaiyo Towett.

“We were hoping to welcome CS Tobiko in Mariashoni and hear what plans he has to resettle more than 700 families of the Ogiek who have so far been evicted from the forest,” said Mr Towett.

“We want CS Tobiko to appoint two working committees led by National Environment Management Authority (Nema), KFS and National Land Commission, provincial administration and National Museums of Kenya to end 30 years of violation of Ogiek human rights,” said Mr Towett.

He urged the minister to form the second committee to deal with the resettlement of the Ogiek.

Mr Towett said: “Even if Ogiek are resettled without addressing the runaway poverty, they are likely to sell their land,” added Mr Towett.

Reverend Nelson Timose, who was evicted from the forest, said that many of the Ogiek were living in squalid conditions in various camps in the area.

“During this period of coronavirus pandemic it is very dangerous to have people living in camps and we urge the government to address this crisis once and for all. The Ogiek have suffered for more than three decades while seeking justice,” said Rev Timose. 

The community first moved to court in 1997 and obtained an order restricting the government against settling people in the Eastern Mau Complex. The matter, which dragged in court for 17 years, was determined in 2014.

The Environment and Lands Court Judge Pauline Nyamweya directed the National Land Commission to open a register of members of the Ogiek in consultation with their council of elders and identify land for their settlement, all within one year.

The court also nullified all illegally obtained title deeds from the complex and imposed a caveat.

Author:

https://nation.africa/resource/image/6888/portrait_ratio1x1/60/60/f181ce38b894610752d268090b5e11f4/Xx/f-mureithi.jpg

 

FRANCIS MUREITHI

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Mau Evictions of Settlers halted, but Indigenous Ogiek still in Peril

The Kenya Government still is in violation of national and international laws, but simply continues with their Salami tactics.

Reprieve for 45,000 Mau Forest settlers as court halts evictions

By Julius Chepkwony- 21. July 2020

[From left] Lawyer Kipkoech Ngetich, Lawyer Joshua Terer, Nakuru County Assembly Deputy Speaker Samuel Tonui and Renny Langat at Nakuru Law Courts on July 16, 2020, after filing a petition to stop the ongoing Mau Forest Evictions in Marioshoni. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The Environment and Lands Court in Nakuru has issued orders barring the government from evicting people from the Eastern Mau Complex.

Justice John Mutungi issued the orders following a petition filed by Nessuit Ward Member of County Assembly Samuel Tonui.

Tonui, who is also the Deputy Speaker at the Nakuru County Assembly, went to court under a certificate of urgency, to sue Kenya Forest Service, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Forestry Keriako Tobiko and the Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya.

The Law Society of Kenya was named as interested party in the case.

Tonui through lawyer Kipkoech Ng'etich and Renny Langat, said Tobiko and Natembeya are coordinating an egregious operation to annihilate the residents of Nessuit, Marioshoni, Sururu, Lilia, Terit and Sigotik settlement schemes having commenced forceful evictions.

The exercise as per the documents filed in court began on June 28, 2020, and a multi-agency operation undertaken by KFS officers in conjunction with officers from National Police Service.

"The said officers have torched and destroyed property worth millions of shillings on a disguise that the operation is intended to stop all illegal human activities and from government forests which form the Eastern side of Mau Forest Complex," read the petition in part.

Tonui noted that vide Gazette Notice No. 889 dated January 30, 2001, and published on February 16, 2001, the Government through the then Minister of Environment altered the boundary of the Eastern Mau Forest by excising an area of land approximately 35,301.01 hectares. This led to the creation of the now Nessuit, Marioshoni, Sururu, Lilia, Terit and Sigotik settlement schemes.

He said a survey was conducted in 1997 and beacons placed and cutline established.

"There is a real live and serious threat to security, peace and stability of the area of the forceful evictions, malicious destruction of property and alienation of private owners’ property rights illegally and unlawfully proceeds,” read the suit.

The manner in which the eviction is being executed according to the MCA is inhumane.

He said the over 45,000 locals being evicted have valid title deeds issued by the Government in the years 1997, 2005 and in 2013.

Tonui sought orders directing KFS, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Regional Commissioner be barred from interfering with the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of property rights of the residents in the area.

Justice Mutungi having perused the Notice of Motion dated July 16, 2020, together with the petition said he was persuaded that it raises weighty and valid constitutional issues.

"I am persuaded the petition raises weighty and valid constitutional issues, whether or not the residents right to property are likely to be violated if the evictions are carried on and whether or not the forest land eventually allocated to some residents was lawful degazetted and excised," read part of the orders of the court.

The judge further noted that some of the residents hold titles dating back to 1991 and there is need to establish their validity.

He noted that rendering people homeless during the Covid-19 period could be catastrophic.

"Having regard to the issues and the implications that go with evictions where a multitude of persons may be rendered homeless and that could be particularly catastrophic during this period of Covid-19 pandemic and I am persuaded to grant conservatory order pending hearing and determination of Notice of Motion," stated Justice Mutungi.

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Indigenous Rights

How Kenya’s Indigenous Ogiek are Using Modern Technology to Validate their Land Rights

By Isaiah Esipisu - 21. July 2020

72-year-old Ogiek community elder, Cosmas Chemwotei Murunga, inspects one of the trees felled by foreigners in 1976. Ogiek community protests put an end to government approved logging of the indigenous red cedar trees here. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

72-year-old Ogiek community elder, Cosmas Chemwotei Murunga, inspects one of the trees felled by foreigners in 1976. Ogiek community protests put an end to government approved logging of the indigenous red cedar trees here. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

CHEPKITALE, Kenya (IPS) - The Ogiek community, indigenous peoples from Kenya’s Chepkitale National Reserve, are in the process of implementing a modern tool to inform and guide the conservation and management of the natural forest. The community has inhabited this area for many generations, long before Kenya was a republic. Through this process, they hope to get the government to formally recognise their customary tenure in line with the Community Land Act.

In collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), community elders, civil society members and representatives from the 32 clans that form the Chepkitale Ogiek community are mapping their ancestral territory using a methodology known as Participatory 3-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM).

Technically speaking, P3DM or 3D maps brings together three elements that were previously considered impossible to integrate – local spatial and natural resource knowledge, geographic information systems (GIS) and physical modelling.

“The mapping will support the spatial planning and management of the Chepkitale National Reserve by identifying actions required to address the various challenges affecting the management and conservation of the natural resources in the targeted area,” John Owino, Programme Officer for the Water and Wetlands Programme at IUCN, told IPS.

The process, which started in 2018, involves extensive dialogue with community members in order to document their history, indigenous knowledge of forest conservation and protection of natural resources using their traditional laws and geographical territories.

According to IUCN, which is providing both technical and financial support, the exercise was projected to be completed by the end of 2020. However, this target will be delayed as a result of the prevailing coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the Ogiek’s unique traditional community laws recorded in the participatory mapping exercise state that charcoal burning is totally prohibited, poaching is strictly forbidden and commercial farming is considered illicit.

“In this community, we relate with trees and nature the same way we relate with humans. Felling a mature tree in our culture is synonymous to killing a parental figure,” Cosmas Chemwotei Murunga, a 72-year-old community elder, told IPS. “Why should you cut down a tree when you can harvest its branches and use them for whatever purpose?” he posed.

Very famously, in 1976, the Ogiek community protests put an end to government-approved logging of the indigenous red cedar trees here.

The trees, felled some 44 years ago, still lie perfectly untouched on the ground in Loboot village.

The Ogiek indigenous community who live in Kenya’s Mount Elgon forest have conserved the forest’s natural ecosystem for centuries. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

The Ogiek indigenous community who live in Kenya’s Mount Elgon forest have conserved the forest’s natural ecosystem for centuries. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

While the Ogiek are an asset to the conservation of the forested area within the park, their dispute with the government over their rights to the forested land has been a long-running one.

  • There have been several attempts by the government to evict the community from the forest, following the gazetting of the entire Ogiek community land as the ‘Chepkitale National Reserve in Mount Elgon,’ which made the land they live on a protected area from the year 2000.
  • Since then, police officers invaded the Ogiek community land several times, torching their houses, destroying their property and forcefully driving them away from the forest.
  • But in 2008, the community, through Chepkitale Indigenous People Development Project (CIPDP) — a community based organisation that brings together all Ogiek community members — went to court for arbitration. The court issued orders to immediately halt the forceful evictions. However, the case is yet to be determined.

“In many indigenous communities, governments have always used an excuse of environmental destruction to evict residents, and that was the same thing they said about our community,” Peter Kitelo, co-founder of the CIPDP, told IPS.

“However, we have proved them wrong, and when the case is finally determined, we are very hopeful that we will emerge victorious,” he said.

The 3D mapping, according to Owino, is in line with the Whakatane Mechanism, an IUCN initiative that supports the implementation of “the new paradigm” of conservation. It focuses on situations where indigenous peoples and/or local communities are directly associated with protected areas and are involved in its development and conservation as a result of their land and resource rights, including tenure, access and use.

  • The mechanism promotes and supports the respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities and their free prior and informed consent in protected areas policy and practice, as required by IUCN resolutions, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

There are previous examples of P3DM mapping proving successful among another Ogiek communities — those in the Mau Forest.

  • In 2006, a P3DM exercise involving 120 men and women from 21 Ogiek clans in the Mau Forest resulted in a 3D map of the Eastern Mau Forest Complex.
  • According to the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), the 3D map was persuasive enough to convince the Kenyan Government of the Ogiek’s right to the land, and the need to protect the area from land grabbing and resource exploitation.

The CTA further reported that a rich P3DM portfolio of outputs, including reports, papers and maps, have been used at international forums to document the value of local/indigenous knowledge in sustainable natural resource management, conflict management and climate change adaptation, and in bridging the gap between scientific and traditional knowledge systems.

In addition to the 3D map, the Ogiek community is already working with the National Land Commission of Kenya, an independent body with several mandates. Among them is the mandate to initiate investigations, on its own initiative or based on a complaint, into present or historical land injustices and to recommend appropriate redress.

“Once completed, the 3D map will be a very important tool for this community because apart from effective management of the natural resources in Chepkitale, we will use it as an instrument to prove how we have sustainably coexisted with nature for generations,” said Kitelo.

The Ogiek community want their territory officially recognised as community land provided for by Kenya’s new constitution, particularly in relation to the Community Land Act, 2016, which provides for the “recognition, protection and registration of community land rights; management and administration of community land”.

According to elderly members of the Ogiek community, the forest is their main source of livelihood.

Inside the forest, the community keeps bees for honey production, which is a major part of their diet apart from milk, blood and meat. They also gather herbs from the indigenous trees, shrubs and forest vegetation, and feed on some species found in the forest. Their diet is not limited to bamboo shoots, wild mushrooms and wild vegetables such as stinging nettle.

“Since I was born 72 years ago, this forest has always been the main source of our livelihoods,” Chemwotei Muranga told IPS.

Now, armed with traditional knowledge of forest management and conservation of natural resources, community-based rules and regulations, and provisions within the country’s new constitution and the Community Land Act— they hope to be doing so for centuries to come.

“Living in such a place is the only lifestyle I understand,” Chemwotei Muranga said.

The inclusive approach of supporting indigenous peoples and local communities in conservation will be a major focus at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France, next January. The topic falls under one of the main themes of the Congress, Upholding rights, ensuring effective and equitable governance with sessions aiming to discuss and provide recommendations for how the conservation community can support the existing stewardship of indigenous peoples and local communities.

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State goes against own moratorium, kicks thousands out of forest

By  Stella Cherono  &  John Njoroge - 17. July

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A boda boda rider carries a woman who had been evicted from the Mau forest in Marioshoni, Nakuru County, on July 13.  PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE I NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Dozens of families were rendered homeless after KFS rangers raided their homes, evicted them and set their shelters ablaze.
  • But in January 2018, the EU suspended funding when a Sengwer, Robert Kirotich, was shot dead allegedly by KFS guards while herding his cattle in the forest.

  • Last month, thousands of residents were evicted from Mt Elgon Forest to pave the way for afforestation of the water tower.

The government in May this year declared a suspension of evictions for the period of Covid-19 pandemic following calls by UN Special Rapporteurs.

But that the same government is going against its own undertaking only adds to Ms Caren Chematia’s worries. She was not even aware of such a pact. She watched her home go up in flames on Thursday last week and now, her children have no place to sleep and no food to eat.

Ms Chematia, her family and others like her have since spent their nights at a shop in Kapsinedet village in Elburgon Ward of Njoro Sub-county. The shop has been shut for a year, and the owner offered it to the families — at least for now. They are lucky since some families have no place to sleep.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Ms Chematia says the social distancing measure to contain the spread of coronavirus is not applicable to her and the other families for now. In fact, the contagion is the least of their worries.

“I’ve had to sell my cows and chicken right at this shopping centre. Where would I be moving with cows? I sold three for 5,000 each, yet on a normal day, a cow would go for Sh50,000. I sold the chicken at Sh200 each. The houses were burnt and all we could salvage were clothes and utensils,” she lamented.

https://nation.africa/resource/image/1874052/landscape_ratio2x1/960/480/bff0c85a20a3d9945a03b859abfdb7f7/uO/mzee.jpgA resident of Kapsinendet in Marioshoni, Nakuru County, displays the map showing where the forest land sits on July 12. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP Ms Chematia and others from her former village were affected by the current evictions targeting residents of Marioshoni area in Elburgon. The government said the locals had invaded forest land and sent Administration Police and Kenya Forest Service officers to kick them out. The evictions entered the eighth day Thursday.

Others, Ms Caroline Chepkoech of Chai Moto in Marioshoni with her three children have to brave heavy rains after her house was razed. When the Nation caught up with her, she was still looking for a place to spend the night.

 “I’ve been sleeping in thickets with my children, with no food to eat. We have no place to go or take our livestock,’’ she said, adding, all her belongings were left outside her burnt house because the rains have made the roads impassable.

RENDERED HOMELESS

Dozens of miles away at the Embobut Forest in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, another community, the Sengwer, are in the same boat as that of the Ogiek in Nakuru County.

Dozens of families were rendered homeless after KFS rangers raided their homes, evicted them and set their shelters ablaze.

A Sengwer leader, Mr Elias Kimaiyo, said many community members had left the area in search of food when the raid took place. They were unable to salvage their bedding and other possessions.

“The children who had remained at home fled into the nearby forest from where they watched their homes burn. What is happening now is so heartless, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

The raid is the latest on the Sengwer community, which the government accuses of occupying part of the Embobut Forest. The community, on the other hand, says the forest is their ancestral land.

In 2017, the European Union initiated the Water Towers Protection and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Programme, which was intended to improve the ecosystems of Kenya’s principal water towers while benefiting the nearby communities.

But in January 2018, the EU suspended funding when a Sengwer, Robert Kirotich, was shot dead allegedly by KFS guards while herding his cattle in the forest.

Last month, thousands of residents were evicted from Mt Elgon Forest to pave the way for afforestation of the water tower.

The residents, who are said to have illegally encroached on public land, were evicted from their homes in an operation conducted by KFS officers.

NEIGHBOURING CAVES

They have now relocated to neighbouring caves where they are seeking refuge as they ponder their next move.

Mr Joseph Simatwa, a resident, yesterday told the Nation that they risk contracting deadly diseases as they are spending nights in the cold and going without food after their properties were destroyed.

Mt Elgon Deputy Commissioner David Kosigai said the government would hold talks with the evictees and KFS on where they should be resettled.

Rift Valley regional commissioner George Natembeya accused some members of the Ogiek community of selling their land. He also said they invade government forests and claim they are forest dwellers.

“We know you have sold your own parcels of land, and we will soon kick you out to protect water sources,” Mr Natembeya warned.

UN Special Rapporteurs Balakrishnan Rajagopal and Mary Lawlor said in the wake of the Kariobangi and Ruai evictions that the ejections exposed communities to the dangers of contracting Covid-19.

CONTEMPLATED EVICTIONS

“The evictions not only render thousands of persons homeless without any alternative accommodation, but doing so in the current context of a pandemic violates multiple human rights norms and exacerbates its potential impact on the rights to health and life of thousands of Kenyans,” the UN officials said.

They told the Kenyan authorities to stop any further contemplated evictions, urgently provide assistance to the evictees, and guarantee their rights to shelter, food, water and sanitation.

“They must also put in place a plan, with the full participation of the evictees, to find a long-term solution to their housing needs,” the special rapporteurs said.

But even with the moratorium, thousands of people have been evicted from the 57,000-hectare Mau east stretch, which KFS seeks to reclaim. The targeted areas are Marioshoni, Bararget, Kiptunga and Ol Posimoru.

In the North Rift, the area to be restored is Embobut Forest.

Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have criticised the manner in which the government is carrying out the evictions.

Additional reporting by Dennis Lubanga and Evans Kipkura

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Njoro MP urges government to stop evictions in Eastern Mau

By Caroline Chebet - 13. July 2020

Njoro Member of Parliament Charity Kathambi (pictured) has asked the government to stop evictions in Eastern Mau.

The MP said the current evictions in Mau have put over 20,000 families in a humanitarian crisis and a looming disaster when coupled with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Kathambi said the forced removal of families from Eastern Mau will affect parts of Njoro, Molo, Kuresoi North and Kuresoi South sub-counties.

"The current evictions in Mau are posing a big humanitarian crisis. The situation is aggravated by Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing heavy rains," she said.

Kathambi added that although the government had not come out clearly on the boundary issue with court cases still pending, communication from Kenya Forest Service indicates that even hundreds of those outside the cut-line will be forced out.

"It is sad that the State is evicting people from their homes without proper guidelines on the cut-line. The locals do not even know which cut-line the government is talking about," she added.

With thousands of families being targeted in the evictions, she said the affected sub-counties in Nakuru are also starring at food insecurity and homelessness.

"Odd enough, these areas have State funded facilities including hospitals and schools," she said.

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ANOTHER BIASED NEWSPAPER-REPORT FROM THE STANDARD:

Court ruling puts fate of Mau water tower on the balance

By Caroline Chebet - 06. July 2020

 

Residents look on as Kenya Forest Service officers (KFS) inspect arrows and a bow recovered from one of the illegal settlers at Marioshoni Forest in the Eastern Mau Forest Complex during an operation to flash out illegal settlers in the forest on June 3, 2020. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Behind the serenity of the 57,000-hectare Eastern Mau Forest Complex lies a delicate balance between a court ruling and conservation of the ecosystem.

The lush green complex that comprises Marioshioni, Kiptunga, Bararget, Logoman, Likia, Sururu and Nessuit forests is turning into vast chunks of bare land with estimated over 28,000 hectares completely degraded.

Recent encroachment into the forest for farming and residential activities, the Kenya Forest Service says, is a delicate process as a court ruling stands in between.

The Ogiek community living within the forest is banking on implementation of an African Court of Human rights case to solve their long-standing tussle with the government over forest land. 

But there is also the matter of a yet-to-be released task force report meant to give way forward on the issue.

“The biggest challenge is striking a balance between conservation of the forest and the court ruling. We are still waiting for the outcome of task force report. However, some people are now using the court order to encroach deeper into the forest,” Nakuru County Ecosystem Conservator Francis Misonge said.

A visit to the vast forest by The Standard team reveals tens of structures deep in the forest. While some of the houses were recently destroyed by KFS officers, others are being rebuilt while people are busy on their farms. Several fences have also been put up.

It is not strange to spot glittering iron sheet roofs. These homesteads are vacated during the day but a few belongings are stuffed into bags and stashed in the fences and farms.

The Ogiek community blames the government for dragging its feet to implement the ruling of the African court three years after it ruled in their favour.

Daniel Kobey, Ogiek People Development Programme Executive Director, says the 52,000 members are suffering as a result of more evictions due to delay in implementing the ruling.

“The delay is worrying and we need a roadmap for implementation so that our people will not continue suffering. People are still being evicted from their homes by authorities who tell them they are not aware of any court ruling,” he said.

The African Court, in its judgement dated May 26, 2017, found that the community was illegally evicted from their ancestral land in the water catchment tower and that their rights were violated.

But there appears to be another problem creeping in, that could further complicate matters.

“We have just found out that people from as far as Nyandarua and Meru are leasing forest land from the Ogiek who are hiring them an acre at Sh10,000 a year,” Misonge said.

The government set up a taskforce in November 2017 whose mandate included making recommendations on implementation and enhancing participation of indigenous communities. The term lapsed on October, 24, 2018, and a new task force set up. The team was to table the report by January 2020.

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Plan to clear 1,500 acres of Menengai forest sparks uproar

By Caroline Chebet - 24. June 2020

Farmers cultivating a cleared section of Menengai Forest in Nakuru. Conservationists have warned against clearing swathes of indigenous trees in the forest. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Residents and conservationists have criticised a decision by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to clear more than 1,500 acres of indigenous trees at Menengai forest to accommodate farmers.

The forest has since 1930 been considered a buffer zone between Lake Nakuru National Park and a rapidly expanding Nakuru town.

It is fronted by Milimani Estate in the South, Ngachura and Bahati in the East, Solai in the North and Olo-Rongai in the West.

The Standard has established that some 1,526 acres of indigenous trees are being cleared to pave way for exotic bluegums to be cultivated under the Plantation Establishment and Livelihood Improvement Scheme (Pelis), formerly known as the shamba system.

Forest fires

The KFS has defended the decision.

“The challenge with Menengai forest is illegal logging and forest fires. The shrubs and a few indigenous tree species are susceptible to forest fires and we are replacing them with bluegum. The area is under Pelis,” said Erastus Mugo, the forest station manager.

A number of residents and conservationists are, however, worried that the scheme will strip off Menengai hills of natural forest cover.

Menengai is a major tourist attraction, being home to the world-renown Menengai crater and a Sh60 billion geothermal plant.

Conservationists say clearing huge swathes of the natural forest would be an environmental disaster.

“Felling of these trees and shrubs that hold the soil in the area together is calling for disaster. The forest is also home to wildlife and burrowing animals. Replacing the natural cover with exotic trees amounts to doing away with the area’s ecosystem,” said Miheso Musindi, secretary of Milimani Residents Association.

According to Mr Miheso, the loose soils of Menengai make the area susceptible to landslides and fault lines and replacing the natural forest with exotic trees will expose neighbouring estates to danger and Lake Nakuru to siltation.

“The decision to replace the indigenous tree species is worrying. It means that all the soil will be swept downstream to Lake Nakuru. There will be no control of water running downhill and this will cause more havoc,” he said.

However, KFS says the targeted area forms an insignificant part of the 14,864-acre forest.

“The forest is zoned, with the natural forest covering 5,400 hectares (13,338 acres) and an exotic forest covering 618 ha (1,526 acres),” said Mugo.

Inadequate staff

He said protecting the natural forest from fires and loggers was challenging, especially with inadequate staff.

“We have 12 officers tasked to take care of 13,338 acres,” he said.

According to the KFS officer, bluegums would be easier to manage and more profitable.

“Bluegums are more resistant to fire outbreaks. They also generate revenue,” he said.

But residents have poked holes into the KFS argument.

Benson Ng’ang’a said the indigenous trees cover has over the years survived forest fires, intense logging and landslides.

“This area is so prone to fault lines that it is hard to maintain the roads passing through,” he said.

However, farmers set to benefit from the forest’s clearing supported the KFS plan.

“It will give us land to farm potatoes and beans,” said Abishack Muthoni.

A 2018 report on the status of forests in Kenya revealed that Pelis was the most abused scheme in the sector and that it contributed to the declining indigenous forest cover in the country.

In the Pelis scheme, KFS allows communities living next to forests to cultivate crops while taking care of young trees.

However, the 2018 task force indicated that the scheme led to the illegal conversion of indigenous forest land into plantations.

===

FOREST FIGHT

Evictions in Kenya’s Mau Forest inflame tensions old and new

By Morris Kiruga - 13. September 2020

Protests in 2015 over the illegal acquisition of property in the Mau Forest Complex in Narok County. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

As Kenya tries to restore a critical forest complex, old political divisions reemerge over evictions and resettlement.

Kenyatta’s government is currently evicting about 60,000 people from the Mau Forest, a 400,000ha forest complex in the country’s Rift Valley. It is also the biggest of Kenya’s five water catchment areas – locally called ‘water towers’.

In a country where land is already an emotive issue, the Mau Forest question is one of the most divisive. It interlinks a major environmental concern with historical displacement and high-profile corruption.

  • The forest was originally the home of the Ogiek community, but settlers moved in progressively between the mid-1980s and the late 2000s, hiving off about a quarter of the forest land.
  • In addition to the ecological importance of the forest’s seven blocks, it is also the source of several major rivers. They support the ecosystems of the Mara and Serengeti wildlife sanctuaries, and also flow into Lake Victoria.
  • There were several major extensions into the forest. In 2001, for example, the government resettled the indigenous Ogiek community and internally displaced people from the 1992 elections into forest land. Politicians and politically connected individuals took advantage of the project, hiving of thousands of acres for themselves.

In early September 2019, environment cabinet secretary Keriako Tobiko issued a report that listed the 1,029 original landowners who got a total of 14,000ha of forest land. The report said that they then sold the land to nearly 7,000 new owners, in one instance for the price of just one goat.

Among the most interesting parts of the report was that the allocations and land divisions were ongoing as late as 2009, when President Mwai Kibaki’s government began evicting people from the forest.

  • The government plans to plant 1.8bn trees across the country within the year and increase forest cover to 10% within the next two years.
  • In 2008, the government established a 24km cutline between the forest and human settlements to avert future degradation.

While all sides of the current political divide agree on the need to reclaim the forest to avert an ecological disaster, old political divisions have re-emerged on the issue of resettlement.

  • Although small-scale evictions have been ongoing, the government recently issued a 60-day ultimatum for the people in the forest to move. They now live in villages, ranches and other settlements on the forest land.
  • A similar exercise a decade ago nearly split the government, with one side seemingly pushing for evictions without prompt and adequate compensation, and the other demanding it.

Oppositionist Raila Odinga was prime minister when the evictions started in 2009. President Uhuru Kenyatta was then one of his two deputies and also the finance minister. Although the decision to conserve the forest complex was a cabinet decision, Odinga’s role as premier made him the main target for opposing forces, who included his cabinet colleagues.

  • At the time, current deputy president William Ruto was agriculture minister and was one of the most vocal voices against the evictions. At the time, Ruto blamed Odinga for delaying resettlement funds so he could “use it as bait for votes in the next general elections”.
  • In 2016, Odinga said that the 2009 evictions were used to fight him politically and were one of the reasons why he lost the 2013 elections. Some analysts agree that it was a strategic blunder on Odinga’s part.

The current evictions have placed Ruto in a seemingly impossible position, as to go against them would be seen as going against the government he serves as deputy president.

  • Although he has mostly avoided stating his current position on the issue, his close allies have spoken out against the evictions, saying that they are meant to scuttle Ruto’s presidential ambitions.
  • The forest’s settlers, mainly drawn from the Maasai and Kalenjin people, form part of Ruto’s core voting bloc, which he has been actively cultivating since 2005. While defending the ongoing evictions, government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna pointed out that similar exercises had been done in other water towers such as the Aberdares and Mt. Kenya. He said: “I do not understand what is special about Mau.”
  • For Ruto’s allies, the timing of the evictions is as important as the evictions themselves, as they come at a time when almost all other political leaders are gearing up for a referendum in 2020. Both previous major eviction exercises, in 2005 and 2009-2010, also preceded referendums.
  • Ruto has been vocal in his opposition to a referendum, mainly due to the fact that a constitutional change to the structure of the executive could either deny him the presidency in 2022 or force him into an uncomfortable power-sharing structure.

The bottom line: The race to save the Mau Forest promises to be drawn out, as the government has rescinded its 60-day ultimatum to allow students in 15 schools within the target areas to sit their national exams. While Kenyatta’s government, with tacit and vocal support from Odinga’s side, are on a noble mission, resettlement should be a top priority. For Ruto, the entire exercise could present an opportunity to use his position to ensure the compensation and resettlement are done properly this time, as well as helping to address Kenya’s environmental issues.

That’s if they can all place their old and new political divisions aside.

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Kenya’s Ogiek: The Guardians of Mau

•Oct 5, 2018

The Ogiek, traditional hunter-gatherers, have been subject to violent evictions from their ancestral homeland in the Mau Forest Complex of western Kenya since the beginning of British colonial rule. In 2017, after more than 20 years of legal wrangling, the Ogiek won a landmark victory when an international court ruled that the Kenyan government had violated the Ogiek’s right to their ancestral land by evicting them. However, there are signs that the Kenyan government may be backing down from its pledge to support the court’s decision. Activists are warning of “an imminent plan” by the government to evict Ogiek from parts of the forest.

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CS Karoney Locks Horns With Tobiko Over Mau Title Deeds

By Mumbi Mutuko on 29 August 2018 

Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney differed with Environment and Natural Resources counterpart Keriako Tobiko over Mau Title deeds.

The two ministers contradicted each other over the legality of title deeds issued to those claiming land in the forest after the government took the decision to evict settlers.

While appearing before a joint sitting of the National Assembly committees on Lands and Environment on the variation of 4,607 hectares of Mt Elgon forest Karoney faulted Tobiko, stating the process of invalidating a title deed was clear.

“The status of Mau titles is what we are looking at within the government. 

There is a way of cancelling a title. I cannot just announce that they are fraudulent,” CS Karoney remarked.

Appearing before the Environment Committee last week, Tobiko had stated that the titles in possession of the evictees "are just pieces of paper because they were issued fraudulently”.

The contradictory statements by the two Cabinet secretaries caught the committee members by surprise where the Environment Committee chairman Kareke Mbiuki declared that the ministers are confused.

“We are at a loss because your colleague has already made up his mind. Is his ministry part of the team you are talking about?” Mbiuki asked.

The Lands Cabinet Secretary chose not to give an answer.

“I wish your counterpart in Environment was a bit conservative with his words. What we know is that title deeds are not wooden or metallic,” Mbiuki remarked.

He further added that the panel should find a way of penalising ministers who mislead House committees.

===

Behind the Green Mask: UN Agenda 21 

Rosa Koire Exposes UN Agenda 21 2030

•Sep 8, 2019

Peter8aus8Berlin

Read also Rosa Koire's book. Behind the Green Mask, UN Agenda 21.

As she states: "Awareness is the first step in the Resistance."

Rosa Koire, ASA is a forensic commercial real estate appraiser specializing in eminent domain valuation. Her nearly thirty years of experience analyzing land use and property value enabled her to recognize the planning revolution sweeping the nation. While fighting to stop a huge redevelopment project in her city she researched the corporate, political and financial interests behind it and found UN Agenda 21. Rosa speaks across the nation and is a regular blogger on her web site Democrats Against UN agenda 21.com

UNDERSTAND FULLY: Behind the Green Mask

Resist the NWO! AGENDA 21

Armed and Accurate NO FEAR

Related

 

BE AWARE:

The U.N. Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development - Exposed

Aug 30, 2016

Cassa Ramona

In this video, Dan Titus of iAgenda21.com, explains what Sustainable Development (SD) is from the experts claims and offers a counter point of view. He talks about the genesis of SD and how it is fomented through crisis, artificial scarcity, and forced conservation aka, rationing. He couches his argument within the framework of two global warming bills in California and ties them directly to international influences of U.N. Agenda 21 and The U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Agenda 21 News Ceases Publication

Freedom Advocates, publisher of Agenda 21 News, has decided to cease further publication of Agenda 21 News posts. This discontinuation of the Agenda 21 News Digest takes effect immediately. Agenda21News.com will remain live for at least a month, so that those who would like to review or download articles can do so.
We would like to acknowledge the fine work performed by Katherine Lehman in editing the publication for the last year.
We encourage readers to become aware of two other Agenda 21 related websites to provide you with regular Agenda 21 news inputs:
· iAgenda21.com
· SustainableFreedomLab.org
Also available to you are infrequent emails from Freedom Advocates. If you are not currently receiving them, you can sign up for them at www.FreedomAdvocates.org.
These sources are helpful in keeping you informed regarding the Globalist / Agenda 21 movement.
Thank you for your interest in Agenda 21 News.

Agenda 21 — Sustainable Development

Agenda 21 - Earth SummitSustainable Development is the blueprint being used across America and around the world to implement the United Nations Agenda 21 Programme.
To help keep you up-to-date on the transformation, Agenda21News delivers relevant news and information. You will see concrete examples and explanations of Sustainable Development and its many faces - Smart Growth, Regionalism, Charter Schools, Common Core, ICLEI, the Wildlands Network, Public-Private Partnerships, and much more.
In summary, Sustainable Development seeks (1) the abolition of private property; (2) "global citizenship” with allegiance to a tyrannical system; (3) complete top down control utilizing technology (technocracy) and neighborhood snitches; and (4) to create discordance within the human population.
Share the articles, spread the word and make a difference!

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LEARN MORE AND SUPPORT THE OGIEK

Ogiek people

The Ogiek, sometimes called the Okiek or Akiek, are a Southern Nilotic ethnic group native to Tanzania and Southern Kenya, and Western Kenya. In 2019 the ethnicOkiek population was 52,596, although the number of those speaking the Ogiek language was as low as 500.

History

In 1903, C.W.Hobley recorded eleven Okiek communitiesa hunter-gatherer societyliving in western Kenya. He noted that a number of entire sections were bi-lingual, speaking either MaasaiKipsigis or Nandi in addition to their own languages.

Other hunter-gatherer communities also lived on the eastern highlands of Kenya where they were known in local traditions by the names "Gumba" (extinct) and "Athi", kown as the Watha.

Recent history

Language

Many Ogiek speakers have shifted to the languages of surrounding peoples: the Okiek in northern Tanzania now speak Maasai and the Okiek of Kinare, Kenya now speak Gikuyu. The Ogiek are one of various groups of hunter-gatherers in Kenya and Tanzania to which the derogatory term Ndorobo (or Dorobo) has been applied by the colonialists.

Land Disputes

The Ogiek have made numerous claims against the government of Kenya alleging unfair treatment, especially that they have been illegally dispossessed of their land.

Timsales Ltd is active in deforestation in the Mau Forest area for long. It is partly owned by relatives of former presidents Kenyatta and Moi.

 

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